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School staff: The unsung heroes of the community

Susan Novara, Title One teacher at Garfield Elementary.

Every day teachers, secretaries, janitors and other school personnel go above and beyond their job description to support students and the community. These stories demonstrate the value school professionals provide students across the state. 

In schools across Michigan, thousands of professionals work hard to provide quality learning and care to all students. From the administrative staff that work the front lines to the janitors and bus drivers that work behind the scenes, they care for our students the moment the school day begins.

Title One teacher helps students realize their potential  
Susan Novara has been a Title One teacher at Garfield Elementary since 1998. She first served the school as a language and speak pathologist.
Novara collaborates with students of all grades, teachers, administrators, parents and other staff to promote the success of all students. She works alongside teachers to create a specialized intervention for each student’s needs based on research.

She explained how the process has helped students realize their full potential.
“My favorite part of my job is to see children improve their skills and for them to realize they are learners. Sometimes our students do not believe that they can improveSomewhere along the way they bought the lie that they are not capable of learning or improvingI am convinced that all children can learn, and my greatest joy is seeing that moment when they too believe they can learn. Providing a warm and respectful environment helps children to know they are valued,” said Novara.  
Novara receives positive feedback from students and teachers for her fun and interactive teaching style.  
“To be able to have a positive and lasting impact on people is the best reward for being a teacher,” Novara said.  
School custodian builds relationships and inspires students 
Denise Williams, or Miss Denise as the students affectionately call her, greets every student and staff member with a warm smile and genuine hello.  
Williams is the Orchard Lake Middle School custodian whose big heart and hard work has garnered her respect and admiration from students, staff and administration. 
“Her presence added a new dimension to what it means to have a great custodian at Orchard Lake Middle School," said Scott Long, the school's assistant principal. "On any given morning, you may find two or three students in her office, saying hello, sharing their personal problems and just looking for a friendly face that will help them start their day off the right way.”
Long explained that Williams is special in that she also knows how to show tough love. Some of the students that love her the most also happen to be students that find their way into troublePast custodians would have easily looked the other way when a student was doing wrong. However, Williams isn’t afraid to show students the error of their ways and teach them to respect each other and their building.  
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