A Grand Ledge with a world of experience becomes Michigan's Teacher of the Year.
Matinga Ragatz, born in Madrid, Spain, and raised all over the world, teaches global studies to students at Grand Ledge High School. She received the honor Wednesday morning at a surprise school-wide assembly, hosted by State Superintendent Mike Flanagan.
Students tell wilx.com Ragatz stands out from other teachers because she treats them like "mature adults" and engages them with real-world stories. Wednesday in class, students were discussing anything from the AIG fall-out to the crisis in Greece.
"Ms. Ragatz is a very relatable teacher. She understands what the students need. We all respect each other in the classroom," says student Kaiti Blundy.
"Some teachers throw books out there, and you read it, that's it. Ms. Ragatz will talk about it, try to relate it to a modern topic," says student Zach Ross.
"I am just geeked. I'm incredibly surprised right now. It's surreal," Ragatz tells wilx.com. She says it's especially meaningful this year, in which teachers have had a rough go of it with the state's budget problems.
"It's very humbling, because we're all a little bit demoralized. Even though we're going through some career problems and economic problems, we are coming here every day, being very professional," she says.
"My secret to teaching? I just love the job. I just love the job. I love what I do," she says.
"She does deserve this. She's an amazing teacher," Blundy says.
Ragatz is the second teacher from mid-Michigan in as many years to win this award. Rob Stephenson of the Okemos School District won the honor last year.