James Fisher teaches the 4/5 Magnet program at . It's his first year at Ferry—a change he finally made when he realized there would never be a good time to leave his former school, .
Earlier this school year, Fisher noticed his students whispering and energetic one day at lunch. They were clearly "up to something," Fisher said, laughing now as he came to understand they were working together to nominate him for Metro Parent's Top Teacher Award.
Being nominated, Fisher said, was an honor in itself.
Then about two weeks ago, he received notification that he was one of the five chosen teachers from Michigan out of hundreds nominated.
"To be nominated by students is such an honor," Fisher said. "It's touching that they thought about it and coordinated their efforts."
Fisher began with the district at , where he taught first and second grades; then he moved to Monteith, where he taught third and fourth grades for nine years.
Teaching came natural to Fisher, who said he took many leadership roles before becoming a teacher and described his journey to becoming a teacher as a "natural progression."
He was the oldest of three boys, he was a resident adviser in college, he was a coach and did a great deal of volunteering with kids, he said.
Part of the reason he believes the students nominated him is because of his genuine interest in their learning experience, describing his students as being part of his family.
"I go the extra mile. I put a lot of care into the classroom," Fisher said, noting the many projects and problem-based learning lessons he's used for lesson plans.
Students traveled to the zoo for a class project. He's held live poetry reading at for his students and their families, where they receive a mic and the owner allows them to use it as a stage.
His reputation from Monteith proceeded him. Almost as soon as he arrived at Ferry, Fisher said students began asking about certain projects he used for teaching there, such as as such for a few hours inviting parents and others from the school to come dine there.
The restaurant is part of his economics lesson plans and he's planning it again this year. He wants to try new ideas too, he said, but since these ideas are tried and true coupled with the students' excitement about them, he is using some of them again this year.
Next year, though, he said, is a whole new slate.