Kelly Wilson has been an educator for 25 years in both traditional and non-traditional settings, and she discovered early on that teaching truly is an art, one that requires constant renewal and refinement.
It is that approach to teaching that has earned Wilson a state-wide honor among her peers. She was selected by the Michigan Council of Teachers of English as the Touchstone Award Recipient Creative Writing Educator of the Year for 2019.
Wilson is currently a teacher at Lakeview Academy in Petoskey, a unique partnership between the Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District and the 7th Probate Court in Emmet County to serve the needs of adjudicated youth. Wilson’s idea of how best to serve those needs includes a curriculum rich with literature and writing projects that encourage, empower, and inspire her students.
“I feel deeply honored to be recognized for valuing above all else a trait that cannot be standardized. I’ve spent my professional life both nurturing and being inspired by the extraordinary creativity of my students. Their courage, honesty, and insight has motivated me to take risks alongside them.”
Wilson was honored at the Touchstone Award Ceremony at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in Kalamazoo on May 10. The award is given in association with the Michigan Youth Arts Creative Writing Program.
“Touchstone awardees represent the best teachers and advocates in arts education who endow Michigan’s children with a lifelong capacity for innovation,” said Abbey Lilly-Lacca, Coordinator of MCTE/MYAF Creative Writing Program. “Recipients have a record of advocacy for arts programs, dedication to bringing out the very best in their students, and a continued commitment to artistic excellence. On behalf of Michigan Youth Arts, congratulations to our Educators of the Year!”
Jeff Crouse, Superintendent of Char-Em ISD, congratulated Wilson on her award, recognizing her as a shining star among the ISD’s teachers and staff. “We are so proud of Kelly and her hard work that led to her recognition at the state level,” said Crouse. “She is innovative and she works hard to instill a love of writing in her students. She is creative and inspiring and we are so fortunate to have her leading our students in not only writing, but as a role model as well.”
Wilson earned her undergraduate degree in English from Western Michigan University and graduate degree in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. In addition to her full-time teaching position, she is actively involved as a Teacher Consultant for the National Writing Project via the Top-of-the-Mitt Writing Project. Furthermore, she plans and facilitates the English Language Arts collaborative for Char-Em ISD.
She was nominated for the award by Toby Kahn-Loftus, who stated: “Kelly is a thoughtful, reflective teacher devoted to learning everything possible about ‘best-practice’ instruction in writing. Kelly fell in love with the notion of using mentor texts and modeling her own creative writing with her students.”
In her present position, Wilson has collaborated with a local artist on several art and writing projects that were displayed at the Crooked Tree Arts Center and the Carnegie Library in Petoskey. Both Wilson’s and a student’s original writings were featured on the Michigan Council for Teachers of English online Language Arts Journal. Recently, her students engaged in a creative writing and nature experience in collaboration with the Little Traverse Bay Conservancy and Good Hart Artist Residency. She has also volunteered to be a juror for the annual Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for the past four years.