Students at the Bay-Arenac Career Center
are working with two of the top teachers in Michigan, according to a statewide organization.
In 2021, the Michigan Association for Career & Technical Education
(ACTE) named Lisa Forrest its Michigan Teacher of the Year and Elizabeth Wise its Region 1 Michigan & Regional New Teacher of the Year. Forrest and Wise teach at the Bay-Arenac Career Center.
It’s unusual for the organization to honor two teachers from the same school. Making the occasion even more special is the fact that Forrest serves as a mentor to Wise.
“It is not typical for the Teacher and New Teacher of the Year awards to be given to teachers in the same institution,” adds Forrest. “That is very rare.”
The two women are quick to sing each other’s praises.
“A huge part of my success is that the administration at the Career Center gave me Lisa as a mentor. (She) is obviously the ‘Teacher of the Year’ for a reason. She's very good at what she does,” says Wise. “So I’m being mentored by the best.”
Forrest is quick to point out Wise’s strengths too.
Elizabeth WIse, at left, and Lisa Forrest were honored for their efforts to teach students at the Bay-Arenac Career Center.
“Liz gives me credit, but she is an amazing teacher; she is a natural for this and I am so proud that she and I would be able to be honored together,” Forrest says.
“It's really exciting because Liz is an excellent teacher, but we don't always get that affirmation. We get a thank you for our administrators, but at the end of the year when you're completely whipped and your heart and your soul is poured out to this group of students, you don't always get the feedback that tells you that it's successful.”
Each women brings real-world experience her job and serves as an adviser to students outside the classroom.
Meet Lisa Forrest
Forrest, an Upper Peninsula native, has called Bay City home since 1987 and holds a Master’s Degree in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction from Ferris State University. She is a Marketing Management instructor at the Career Center.
When she moved here, she worked at the Downtown Bay City Sears location and then the former Bay City Mall. In 1989, she became Human Resources Specialist. She also served on the Advisory Committee for the Marketing Program at the Career Center. While on the committee, she helped to petition for a Bay-Arenac Career Center to open a site at the mall, which allowed for students to gain hands-on experience. In 1999, she became a Student Support Specialist, and in 2002 came into her current role.
Meet Elizabeth Wise
Wise, a Bay City native, teaches Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Sports Medicine at the Career Center. She’s been at the school four years. Prior to that, Wise worked as an Occupational Therapist in a short-term rehabilitation facility.
She is a Bay City Western graduate and earned her Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Saginaw Valley State University.
On top of their roles as educators, both Wise and Forrest are student club advisers; Forrest serves as a DECA
adviser, and Wise serves as a HOSA
adviser for Future Health Professionals.
“We both actually integrate student clubs, which also provides excellent leadership experiences for our students,” says Forrest. “The students also do community service projects and compete.”
Even though the honors were given specifically to Forrest and Wise, the two educators say the awards speak highly of the entire Career Center program.
“I feel that everyone that works at the Career Center really works hard every day to make the students have the best experience and that we want to set them up with all the tools to make their future successful,” says Wise.
“It was very nice to be acknowledged for the hard work, especially the last couple of years going remote, and definitely a couple of years of second guessing every single thing that you do. ‘Are you doing enough? Are you being too hard? Are you having high enough expectations? Are you being too lenient?’ It was it was really nice to have that affirmation.”
The real-world and hands-on experiences of the educators makes their state-approved curriculum even more beneficial for students.
Health Care students get real-world experience during high school
In addition to the standard curriculum, Wise sought a Delta College accreditation that allows her students to earn college credits before graduating from high school.
The health programs Wise teaches emphasize safety for providers and patients. She also teaches employability skills such as resume writing, interviewing skills, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“You can't really help others if you're not feeling well yourself,” Wise says.
A major component of her curriculum is human anatomy and physiology. In the skills portions of Wise’s class, students study topics such as range of motion and goniometry (a measurement of the angle of a joint). They learn how to take vital signs and the best way to teach patients new, healthy skills.
Another key component is a mentorship experience. The students meet mentors in health care settings in the community. There, they see firsthand what they’ve studied in the classroom.
“They get to see the things that we learned in the lab — actually working with real life patients. They can go out and see that what we're learning in the classroom is actually used in business and industry.”
Marketing Program encourages students to be better consumers
Forrest’s two-year program covers the four P's of marketing – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. It introduces students to multiple careers such as management in different industries, entrepreneurism, product development, marketing information management, logistics, and more.
“There's a huge list of applicable jobs and/or careers that would be applicable to the curriculum,” says Forrest.
“I tell my students something that's very important: Number one, they will be better consumers because they'll understand better how business works, and be able to understand both sides of the equation—the consumer equation as well as the businessperson’s concerns, and to help them to make some better decisions for themselves when it comes time to decide whether or not they want to open their own business or support somebody else in their own business.”
Forrest adds her students also learn professionalism and communication skills that can be applied to anything they do in life.
“It's not very specific necessarily that they come out with any particular certification,” says Forrest. “But it will give them insight into a very large variety of different careers that they could explore through the program.”
Career Center lets students learn about jobs in a low-risk environment
Wise says she tells her students that the Career Center is a terrific way to explore career options.
“I always tell my students at the end of the year if they find out that they love what we've done in class, so physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports medicine, medical term, then that's awesome!” says Wise. “But then if they find at the end of the year that they don't love it so much, I also find that to be awesome and a win because they haven't wasted their time and money in college taking classes they don't need or figure out that that's something that they don't like to do.”
Forrest adds she is pleased with the acknowledgement of her work, but her real reward comes from helping students.
“It was a great honor. I was totally shocked and surprised. It's another award I can put on the wall that gives me the give me the affirmation that my goal to try to help other people in this way and to help the next generation to grow and be successful,” Forrest says.