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Honoring Our Local Educators: Ms. Annie Willard at Oakridge Lower Elementary

MM Gives Back was launched as a way for the Michigan Mortgage team to give back to the community, local and afar.

In the past, our monthly MM Give Back charities were selected by our Employee Superstar of the Month. We donated financially and offered our time and resources.

This year, we’re switching things up! 2020 is the year of Educators.

Each quarter, Michigan Mortgage will recognize a West Michigan educator and donate $1,000 to their school. Honoring education is our priority!

This quarter, we honored Ms. Annie Willard, an SXI Teacher (SXI stands for students that have Severe Multiple Impairments) at Oakridge Lower Elementary.

Ms. Willard, along with a slew of others, was nominated on our Facebook page.

“I would like to throw Rosanne (Annie) Willard’s hat into the ring. Annie works with Severe and Multiple impaired special needs students. I have never met anyone who does more for her students and sometimes, more importantly, their families than Annie. She makes their lives so much better, advocating and arranging for supplies and services to be available to assist these students with some of their most basic necessities like mobility, bathing, and feeding Always looking for solutions, she often spends her own money to make sure the students and their families have what they need. Over the years we have had a few students pass away and Annie is with these students and their families, crying and laughing about the joy these kids have brought right up until the end.” – Renee Warmoth

She is so incredibly deserving of this recognition; we learned that first-hand when we visited her classroom.

“Annie is very deserving of this award because there is no end to the lengths that she goes to for her students and their families,” said Principal Angela Ogden. “Annie has a huge heart and cares for her students and staff as if they were members of her own family.”

Click here to see our surprise visit to Ms. Willard’s classroom!

“I became a special education teacher so that I could make a difference in these children’s lives,” said Ms. Willard. “I push them to their fullest potential and expect great things from them. Their gains may be small and far between, but the challenge is worth it. And it is exciting when they accomplish something that nobody ever thought they could do.”

“My students are my kids,” she continued. “I generally have them for seven years before they move on to the Middle School program. I learn a lot about them and their family. Their struggles, their needs, or just when they need a shoulder to cry on. I have been there for the passing of two of my students. Helping the family during a very dark time.”

On behalf of Michigan Mortgage, Ms. Willard and Oakridge Lower Elementary received a check for $1,000. Ms. Willard plans to use the funds to purchase specialty chairs for the lunch room and sensory items for a new space currently under construction.

“I cannot thank Michigan Mortgage enough for honoring outstanding teachers,” Ms. Willard said. “I love my job and would not change a thing, but it is awesome to be acknowledged for our hard work.”

“My students have made a huge impression on my life,” she said. “I am thankful for them every day.”

Thank you for your commitment to education, Ms. Willard! We are so blessed to recognize you as the first recipient of our Honoring Our Local Educators Award.