Lake Orion, Oxford teachers win Oakland County Outstanding Teacher of the Year awards

By Joseph Goral
Staff Writer
OAKLAND COUNTY – Orion Oaks Elementary teacher Norman Wright and Oxford Virtual Academy teacher Molly Darnell won Oakland County Outstanding Teacher of the Year awards, Oakland Schools recently announced.
Wright won Elementary Teacher of the Year and Darnell won Middle School Teacher of the year. Shannon Graham from Lamphere High School was awarded High School Teacher of the Year.
The awards are presented annually to honor county teachers who have achieved the highest standards of excellence in their profession, according to Oakland Schools. On May 9, Oakland Schools and the Oakland Schools Education Foundation (OSEF) honored 63 teachers at the 2024 Oakland County Outstanding Teacher of the Year Ceremony. The three winners were each presented with a $2,000 check from OSEF.
“These educators have demonstrated mastery in the classroom and go above and beyond to shape the minds and hearts of their students,” Oakland Schools Deputy Superintendent Kenneth Gutman said.
Wright and Darnell were surprised with their awards in March when Oakland Schools staff visited their classrooms.
“Teaching is challenging work, but I pour my heart out each and every day to educate the students I love,” Wright said. “I’m thankful for the Lake Orion families who value education and entrust me with the opportunity to educate their children.”
Lake Orion Community Schools Superintendent Ben Kirby read letters from parents and former students of Wright’s during a podcast that described his impact as a teacher.
“He’s not only an amazing teacher, but an amazing man and role model,” one former student wrote. “I believe that when Aristotle constructed his concept of a virtuous man, he was envisioning Mr. Wright.”
Darnell’s colleague, Caitlin Martin, called Darnell an excellent role model who models good behavior and kindness. Martin said Darnell motivates students through positive support and helps them build health habits that will carry them through middle school, high school and beyond.
“I would not be here without my amazing Oxford colleagues who have empowered me for over two decades,” Darnell said. “I pride the success of my students on the positive relationships we have built together.”
To learn more about the awards, visit:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *