Dr. Karen White (from left), principal of Harms Elementary; Melody Rose Andino, student with winning entry; Yazmine Cirne, student with winning entry (co-winner with Andino); Illya Tolbert, Detroit Goodfellows Teacher of the Year 2013; and Therese R. Yglesias first vice president of Detroit Goodfellows.
Illya Tolbert, an art teacher at Harms Elementary School, was recently honored by the Detroit Goodfellows as the winner of the fourth annual Goodfellow Teacher of the Year Contest. Board members surprised Tolbert, who has taught at Harms for 14 years, at a school assembly with the news and presented him with a $200 gift card to buy classroom supplies. He’ll also be acknowledged at the Detroit Goodfellows Annual Tribute Breakfast this fall.
Detroit Public Schools students in third through eighth grade nominate their favorite teachers by answering the question “Why is your teacher so special?” in 50 words or less. The Goodfellows Board of Directors then selects the winning teacher.
This year, there were more than 800 submissions. Tolbert received 18 nominations.
This year two 10-year-old Harms Elementary students, third grader Yazmine Cirne and fifth grader Melody Rose Andino, have been acknowledged with winning entries.
“My teacher is so special because he teaches art,” Cirne wrote. “Mr. Tolbert is so special because he smells like fresh almonds. He is creative which I like about him. He is very smart in art. I also appreciate Mr. Tolbert because he spends all his money to buy art supplies to make some clay masks and other projects. Another thing that makes Mr. Tolbert so special to me is that he is not mean to me when I mess up in class. That’s why Mr. Tolbert is so special to me!!! (plus a smiley face)”
“My favorite teacher is Mr. Tolbert,” Andino wrote. “He is very creative. His paintings are better than the Mona Lisa. His jokes are very funny. He also works very hard to make everyone smile. He also solves all your problems to make you happy.”
The Goodfellow Teacher of the Year contest is the Detroit Goodfellows’ way of demonstrating its gratitude to Detroit Public School administrators, teachers and support staff who work diligently to identify students in need of its holiday gift packages.