Return to Headlines

Teacher of the Year

Michelle Mackey, 6th grade teacher at Minnie Cannon Elementary School in Middletown, has been named Lake County Teacher of the Year 2021.

“Michelle Mackey is a spectacular teacher that only gets better every year,” said Brandy Fischer, Minnie Cannon Elementary School Principal.

Mackey received notification of the honor on Thursday, May 6, at an out-door assembly at Minnie Cannon Elementary School. Her students, administration, school board president and family members looked on as Brock Falkenberg, Lake County Superintendent of Schools presented a surprised Mackey with a plaque and flowers.

Mackey was chosen as the Middletown Unified School District (MUSD) Teacher of the Year in March. In April, Mackey participated in an application process and interview at the Lake County Office of Education.  There she was chosen from a group of 4 other Lake County District Teachers of the Year to represent Lake County at the California Teacher of the Year competition this summer.

The other District Teachers of the Year 2021 include:

Jim Wenckus – Kelseyville Unified School District

Andrea Pullman – Konocti Unified School District

Jodi Mansell – Lakeport Unified School District

Stella Winkler – Lucerne Elementary School District

Angel Hayenga – Upper Lake Unified School district

“Each year, I feel privileged to attend theses interviews. I was impressed by each and every teacher represented”, said Falkenberg. “They are all winners.”

Members of the interview panel included: Brock Falkenberg, Lake County Superintendent of Schools; Cynthia Lenners, Deputy Superintendent of Schools; Amanda Laughner, Lake County Teacher of the Year 2020; Jennifer Kelley, former Lake County and California Teacher of the Year; Alan Siegel, former Lake County and California Teacher of the Year; and Elva Hohn, representing the California Retired Teachers Association.

Mackey began her teaching career after volunteering in the classroom when her children were young. She was inspired by her children’s preschool teacher, Brandy Fischer, who is now Principal at Minnie Cannon.

Mackey then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree, teaching credential in both Multiple Subject and Special Education, and a master’s degree in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Besides making advances in her own education, Mackey also believes in helping others achieve their education goals. She currently mentors four beginning teachers, and two student teachers joined her in the classroom this year.

But it is Mackey’s connection to her students that makes her stand out.

“She is iconic in Middletown. She is known as the teacher who can meet each student at their individual level and get them to where they need to be,” said Michael Cox, Middletown Superintendent of Schools.

Fischer told stories about the students this year who wanted to stay on Google Meets all day with their teacher. They wanted to stay connected to Mrs. Mackey even when class was over.

“Mackey’s students go to her as a counselor because she builds a bond with each and every one of them,” Fischer said.

Mackey will spend this summer preparing her application for the California Teacher of the Year Program, where she will be competing with teachers from some of the biggest school districts in the state. The California Department of Education will announce five California Teachers of the Year in October 2021. Mackey hopes to be one of those five.

Lake County has had three California Teachers of the Year in the last 16 years. Erica Boomer from Upper Lake Unified School District was named a California Teacher of the Year 2019.  Jennifer Kelly from the Middletown Unified School District received the honor in 2011, and Alan Siegel from Konocti Unified School District received the honor in 2005.

Falkenberg acknowledges the high success rate Lake County teachers have had in the California Teacher of the Year program. “Our Lake County students are being served well by some of the best teachers in our state. That’s a very impressive thing.”

The Lake County Teacher of the Year is a program administered through the Lake County Office of Education and the California Department of Education.