Mulrennan Middle School teacher Kelli Michael was selected for nomination as a National Hockey League (NHL) Most Valuable Teacher. She was one of up to 20 teachers that were ‘featured’ for January.

Kelli Michael, a Mulrennan Middle School science teacher, passed away suddenly from acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2022. Kelli taught for 27 years in the Hillsborough County school system, teaching locally throughout her career, beginning at Alafia Elementary, then teaching at Buckhorn Elementary and most recently being a science teacher at Mulrennan Middle School. She is survived by her husband, Brian Michael, and two children, Sean and Shane. Kelli was recently selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of the NHL’s Most Valuable Teacher program.

Additionally, Kelli was previously awarded Teacher of the Year at Buckhorn Elementary. After her passing, and because of her dedication to Relay For Life, faculty and friends from Buckhorn Elementary School, Mulrennan Middle School and Durant High School all joined together to honor Kelli. They created a campaign to raise money with the sale of custom T-shirts and stickers, all to support the 2022 Relay for Life.

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Original Story Printed February 2022.

Mulrennan Middle School science teacher Kelli Michael was selected for nomination by the Tampa Bay Lightning as January’s Future Goals Most Valuable Teacher.

Each month, from January through March, up to 20 Future Goals teachers throughout the country are selected to participate in the National Hockey League (NHL) Most Valuable Teacher program. The public has the opportunity to vote for the teacher who they think should be declared Future Goals Most Valuable Teacher of the Month.

Michael, a Valrico resident, received the nomination because of her participation in the NHL and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Future Goals program. Michael accesses the program through an app on Clever and uses it to teach sixth-grade students skills using a STEM sports curriculum, including foundational STEM concepts, scientific thinking, data/graphic analysis and more. Using the game of hockey as a STEM learning vehicle, the program helps students understand the real-world applications of science and math principles.

“The app uses games to teach students about science through different aspects of hockey,” she said. “One lesson teaches them about the scientific method, and it’s great because my students are learning and having fun at the same time.”

Two years ago, she was able to take a group of students to a Lightning hockey practice to see the principles in action.

“We all know how vital and important teachers are in the lives of all children, which is why we are thrilled to be able to celebrate them through the Most Valuable Teacher program,” said Rob Zepp, manager of special projects for the NHLPA. “The opportunity to recognize teachers who, through their involvement in the NHL/NHLPA Future Goals program, go above and beyond is something we are extremely excited about.”

If Michael received the most votes in January, she will be recognized as the Most Valuable Teacher for that month. One winner will also be selected in February and March, which will then narrow the field to three finalists. Final voting will take place from Monday to Friday, May 2-6 during Teacher Appreciation Week 2022 to determine who will be declared the Future Goals Most Valuable Teacher of the Year.

The nominee with the most votes at the end of each month will receive $10,000 worth of technology donations for their school district as well as street hockey equipment.

Michael said her principal, assistant principals and fellow teachers are rooting her on.

“Our school could really use the technology money,” she said.

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.