RCSD ‘Excellence in Education Awards’

Teachers of the Year
Riverview Community High School: Nick Gross

Nick is one of Riverview’s “homegrown” educators, as he graduated from RCHS in 1997.  He went off to college and earned a degree in Education from Eastern Michigan University, majoring in Mathematics and Science, and then promptly returned to join the teaching ranks in 2002, starting out at Gibraltar Carlson before coming to Riverview.  

Nick earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Marygrove College.  He has been a member of the mathematics team, instructing just about every course at every level that RCHS has to offer.  He has also been heavily involved with Riverview High School’s athletic programs, serving as a critical member of the football coaching staff.  

Nick is also part of the school’s PBiS Team, and he recently joined the school’s instructional technology programs.  

This year marks Nick’s 18th as a member of the Pirate faculty. Nick’s colleagues have these things to say about him: “Because Nick is quiet, he is often underestimated and overlooked.  He is reliable and has great rapport with students.  Even when others are complaining or voicing concerns, Nick stays positive and never has a negative attitude. Nick is very diligent in preparing mathematics lessons and curriculum, and he strives to assure that all students in his classes have an understanding of the math content.  Nick has devoted so much of his personal time to the betterment of RCHS.  Whether it’s planning multiple preps with his math classes or working with our students as a coach, he is always there to support the betterment of our kids and school.” 

Nick and his wife have a daughter, Ella, in first grade at Huntington, and he enjoys playing golf, along with coaching football and baseball.  

He said that he values helping students to build their problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and he loves to watch them step out of their comfort zone to apply themselves in challenging situations.  He feels that it’s an honor for him to be part of the process of student achievement.

Seitz Middle School: Jessica Bouchard

Jessica Bouchard grew up in Farmington Hills and graduated from Farmington High School in 2011.  She went on to get a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from Michigan State University, graduating from MSU in 2015.  She is currently studying at the University of Michigan, working to obtain a Master’s Degree in Music Education.  

Jessi began her career in Riverview just four years ago as a part-time band director and during that time she has grown the position to that of a full-time music teacher at the middle school.  

When she started her job, there were two band classes at Seitz – one for sixth grade and one for the combined seventh and eighth grades.  Now there are so many students participating in band that there are four classes:  Eighth-grade band, seventh-grade band, and a sixth-grade band that is so large that it is divided into two factions – brass for one class and percussion and woodwinds for the other.  

In addition to the band classes, Jessi teaches guitar and piano classes, as well as a World Music class. Bouchard’s enthusiasm for music spills over to her students and she keeps them excited to learn and perform, not only at several concerts locally throughout the year, but also off campus on trips that she arranges to places like Mackinac Island, Cedar Point and Chicago.  

Seitz musicians also compete as a whole group at adjudicated Band Festivals and as individuals and small groups at Solo and Ensemble Festivals. 

This year and last, Seitz bands received a Division 1 rating at Festival, the highest score possible, and dozens of students who performed at Solo and Ensemble received ratings of 1 and 2. (Superior/Very Good).  

Jessi also has taken on the role of co-sponsoring the Girls Leadership Club and she serves on a variety of school committees.  Colleagues note that she has “demonstrated a significant contribution to the success of the team” and she is considered to be an “excellent role model,” not only to the middle school students, but also to the high school band members with whom she works at Band Camp and throughout the marching season.  

Jessi is married to her husband Brad, and the two of them celebrated their first wedding anniversary in June of this year. 

Forest Elementary School: Kimberly Ng

Kim is Forest’s physical education teacher for students in grades K-5.  She began her career teaching Reading Recovery at Flat Rock Bobcean Elementary, but was hired by Riverview that same year to be the boys and girls junior varsity tennis coach, working alongside her mother, Hall of Famer Jan Gottlin, who was the varsity tennis coach.  

When Forest’s physical education teacher retired the following year, Kim stepped into the position she now holds.  

She is married to her husband Kam, and they are busy raising five children. The family loves to travel and spend time outdoors taking part in a variety of recreational adventures. Kim likes running, biking, and challenging herself by participating in various competitive activities. 

Since becoming the physical education teacher at Forest, Kim has started a Running Club that participates in two races a year.  She also supervises a “Stacking Club,” helping students to compete in a relatively new “sport” of stacking and unstacking plastic cups following a set pattern of building and deconstructing the pyramids within a timed period. Students raise money for charity through the Stacking Competitions.  

In addition, Kim sponsors a Family Fun Run through the Forest subdivision and she chairs an all-day Field Day at the school.  

After fifteen years as the junior varsity tennis coach, Kim became the varsity coach upon the retirement of her mother three years ago.  

Kim said, “Working with a great staff helps to make me a better educator as we are always looking out for one another.”  She looks forward to many more years “working alongside the wonderful people who are always sacrificing to be the best for our kids.”

Huntington Elementary School: Lauren Haydon

Lauren grew up on Grosse Ile and graduated from Grosse Ile High School before attending Eastern Michigan University to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 2008. Last April, she completed her work on a Master’s Degree in Educational Media and Technology. 

Lauren has been married to her husband Nick for seven years, and they are “pawrents” to two cats, Kip and Dexter.  

Lauren loves spending time with her four nieces and nephew, all of whom she adores. 

She started her teaching career as an Interventionist at Grogan Elementary, and was recruited to perform the same job at Huntington Elementary in Riverview after five years at Grogan. Her first year in Riverview, she taught five first-grade computers classes, along with one second grade computers class and an art class for the self-contained special education room.  

Before she was hired to be a full-time teacher in the fall of 2014, Lauren continued to serve as an Interventionist, working with 4th and 5th graders at Huntington.  She has taught all subjects except Social Studies and Writing to the fourth and fifth graders at Huntington School. 

Lauren serves on a variety of committees and educational teams, and in addition to her work at Huntington, Lauren contributes to the district through coaching of high school cheerleaders.  Lauren enjoys reading, drawing, and painting, and she loves spending time with her family and friends. Her ardent compassion for animals leads her to volunteer at a local rescue shelter.

Memorial Elementary School: Ryan Patrick

Ryan has been the physical education teacher at Memorial since 2008. Prior to teaching elementary students, Ryan spent two years instructing physical education at RCHS. He grew up in Wyandotte, graduating from Wyandotte Roosevelt High School in 1997 and then went on to Grand Valley State to earn his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. He later was awarded a Master’s Degree in Education from Marygrove College.  

Ryan’s first teaching job was in the state of Florida, where he taught physical education to elementary students. While employed in the Sunshine State in the DeSoto County Schools, he was named “Teacher of the Year” during his second year in the district. He was also named Memorial’s “Teacher of the Year’’ during the 2012-13 school year.  

Ryan has been married to his wife Kari for just over one year.  

In addition to teaching gym classes, Ryan serves on the Memorial Safe Schools Team, and is the district elementary representative for the ALICE training.  

He also is a member of the Memorial CPI team and serves on the Educational Leadership Team.  

At Memorial, Mr. Patrick organizes and chairs a Fun Run fundraising event each year, and he heads up Field Day each spring, planning all the events and securing high school volunteers to assist in the all-day event.  

Ryan coaches Seitz Middle School track and is the defensive and offensive backs coach for RCHS varsity football. In addition, he chaperones the Seitz 8th Grade Washington D.C. trip each year.  

Every March, Ryan leads his students in Jump Rope for the American Heart Association fundraiser. Throughout the years that he has been doing this, the kids have raised more than $5,000 for the AHA. Ryan’s coworkers say that “he is a superhero in the eyes of Memorial students. He supports all staff by demonstrating kindness and gives of himself whenever he gets the chance.

They say that Mr. Patrick will never run out of bananas, because his students know how much he loves them (and he touts the nutritional value all the time) – so the kids save them for him from their lunches!

Support Persons of the Year
Riverview Community High School: Jack Massalsky

Jack has been a full-time member of the RCHS Support Staff for two years, working as a technician in the school’s Technology Department. Before that, he worked in the district as a summer Intern in 2015 and 2016 while he was still in high school, and after he graduated from Grosse Ile High School in 2017, he became a full-time employee with Riverview. 

Jack said that he really enjoys the variety of tasks that encompass his job, and that troubleshooting different issues helps him to stay attentive and interested in technology. He also likes being able to help other staff members to understand and to make better use of technology.  

Jack noted that working in the school environment in Riverview is “awesome.”  He holds high regard for being able to see teachers and staff interact with students in such close, engaging manners.  

Jack is still together with his high school sweetheart, his girlfriend of six years now.  He lives with his grandmother and says that he loves listening “too much” to music and spending time with friends.  

Colleagues say that “Jack works quietly but effectively to help in so many different ways as a tech, and he goes above and beyond to help whenever assistance is needed.  He ‘keeps his cool’ in an emergency and fixes the problem quickly.”  “He is quick to respond when help is needed, and he is always so polite to staff.”

Seitz Middle School: Mike Foucher

Mike is a premier member of the Seitz Middle School Maintenance Team. Principal Muñoz says that he always has a smile on his face and something funny to say, but he takes his job very seriously, always eager to make sure that the school is well-maintained and that repairs are completed in a timely manner.  

Mike grew up in Lincoln Park, the fourth of six boys in the family and attended Christ the Good Shepherd School through eighth grade before spending part of his high school days at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He graduated from Lincoln Park High School before attending Henry Ford Community College to obtain a Boiler Operator’s License in the school’s Energy Technology Department.  

Mike’s dad was self-employed in construction, and he learned many tricks of the trade from his father. His mother Joan was a dedicated stay-at-home mom who took great care of her six active sons.  

Mike has been married to his wife Rena (Renée) since September of 2014, and he feels very blessed to have three beautiful grandchildren, Jaxson, Haley, and Lyla, through his stepson Nick and his wife, Amber.  

Mike was employed by Wyandotte Schools for 21 years, mostly as a building engineer.  He became interested in Riverview several years ago when the two districts took part in a group study/review for licensing. He said that he knew then that Riverview was a great place to be, and he joined the Pirates in September of 2017.  

Mike loves hunting, fishing, fantasy football, and spending quality time with his family.  He says that he is thankful to have so many wonderful people working around him because “everyone has a unique way of making the workplace an enjoyable place to spend each day.”

Forest Elementary School: Heather DeRosia

Heather has been married to her husband Mike for 27 years, and they are parents of three adult children:  Eric, age 26, who has a job in business and lives in Wisconsin, Allison, 22, who is attending college to become a teacher and Tyler, age 19, who is studying business in college.  

Before she had children, Heather was a nurse, but she has been working in education for the past fifteen years. She started working in a cross-categorical special education classroom in Gibraltar, and, after about five years, switched to a position in Reading Intervention in Gibraltar.  

In the fall of 2012, Heather transferred to Forest in Riverview where she has been working as a Reading Interventionist ever since.  

Heather said she is so glad to be working in Riverview because the “Forest staff is amazing, and she cannot imagine doing anything else.”  

One of her colleagues said, “Heather is very hard-working and committed to teaching.  She is always prepared, reliable, and responsible.  She is excellent at assessing a student’s current academic level and designing learning experiences that are meaningful and differentiated.  

“Heather has demonstrated a dedication to engaging learners and is a great example and mentor to the district’s other interventionists and students at Forest Elementary.  She communicates her ideas in a professional manner and will volunteer to help others whenever she can.  Heather is flexible and willing to take on extra work if it means helping a student or the rest of the team.”

Huntington Elementary School: Amy Naif

Amy is a Special Education paraprofessional at Huntington, where she works one-on-one with a child.  She grew up in Plymouth, Michigan and graduated from Plymouth Canton High School in 1988, after which she attended Schoolcraft College. 

Amy worked in retail for a period before starting a family, and then she began her full-time career in Riverview at Memorial Elementary in 2008, after working in the Memorial lunchroom and subbing for other paraprofessionals at Memorial.  

Amy began serving as a full-time special education paraprofessional in the same school that her two children attended and then bounced between Memorial and Huntington as she was needed, this year landing back at Huntington.  

Amy is married to firefighter and paramedic Jim Naif, and both of their children are former Hall of Fame Scholarship winners who are now attending college.  Alison is at U of M studying biology, and Kyle at Trine University in Indiana majoring in engineering.  

Amy is known for her strong work ethic and for having a “heart of gold.”  

According to her co-workers, she cares deeply for kids, and it shows every day as she deals with the day-to-day happenings in school.”  She is an avid University of Michigan fan and has a notable fondness for dogs.  

Right now, she and Jim are enjoying the “empty nesting” phase of their life, even though working daily with young children keeps Amy in the “maternal mode’’ for a good part of the year.

Memorial Elementary School: Kristin Crane

Kristin grew up in Gibraltar and graduated from Carlson High School in 2005.  She attended college and studied special education for a time, and then married her husband Jeremiah, who is in the Marines.  

They have lived in Japan and many other locations throughout the USA, sharing myriad relocation adventures with their three children Maycee and Teagan, who are 8 years old, and Beckham, age 5.  

Kristin began working in Riverview as a substitute teacher and paraprofessional and was hired in 2015 as a special education paraprofessional.  She started the school year as a classroom paraprofessional for the upper-elementary resource room but volunteered to serve as a one-on-one paraprofessional for a student who was new to Memorial School this year and needed substantial help.  

In addition, throughout her tenure in Riverview, Kristin has filled a variety of special assignments, including long-term substitute teaching as needed.  

Kristin’s kids keep her very busy with their numerous activities in dance, gymnastics, cheerleading, softball, football, t-ball, and ninja class.  Kristin is also an active member of the PTA at her children’s school.  

Kristin’s colleagues said that “her love for children and her passion for helping those who struggle with learning and fitting in” have led her to volunteer for her current position as a one-on-one para.  “She demonstrates patience, creativity, research, and perseverance, and has set the bar high for all educators through her dedication and commitment.”

District Wide Employee of the Year: Jim Folding

Jim grew up in Wyandotte and attended Roosevelt High School prior to graduating from Riverview Adult Education Program in 1982. He is married to Patty and they are parents of three children, James, Matt, and Kim.  Jim is also the proud grandfather of nine children.  He was hired to work in Riverview in October of 1984, coming in as “casual help” in the maintenance and custodial department.  

By 1986, Jim was a full-time employee, and throughout the years, he has worked himself up the ladder to where he is today as one of the top leaders in Building Maintenance and District Operations.  

Jim attended Wayne County Community College and became certified as a HVAC-R Technician, and he possesses an EPA License to handle refrigerants. He is a Proctor for Ferris State University for Reclamation and Recovery of Refrigerants, and he is also a Licensed Boiler Operator. In addition to holding a License in Infrared Thermography, Jim is licensed as an Aquatics Facility Operator and in Asbestos Removal.  

He is a skilled builder, problem solver, and fixer-upper, and he approaches every job with keen determination to make it right, whatever it takes.  Co-workers admire his cheerful attitude and congeniality as much as they respect the excellent work that he performs throughout the district.