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National Heritage Academies Educator Named 2021 MI Charter Teacher of the Year

NHA Communications Team  |  May 14, 2021
Haley Brink
            May 14, 2021

National Heritage Academies Educator Named
2021 MI Charter Teacher of the Year

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 14, 2021 — On the Friday of National Charter Schools Week, May 14, 2021, Michigan’s Charter School Association, MAPSA, announced its Annual MI Charter School Awards winners.
National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) Jordan Dischinger-Smedes, AP Environmental Science and human anatomy teacher at Grand River Preparatory High School, was named the 2021 MI Charter Teacher of the Year! Read MAPSA’s full feature story here.

NHA’s Kelly Osterhout, principal at Quest Charter Academy, was also recognized as a 2021 Michigan Charter School Administrator of the Year finalist.

“Michigan’s charter school sector is home to some of the most talented, creative and hard-working educators in the country, and Kim and Jordan represent the best of the best,” said MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry. “They’re both extraordinary educators in any year, but this year, they’ve taken things to another level. We’re extremely proud of both of them.”
Every year, MAPSA’s Charter School Awards provide a platform to highlight outstanding educators in Michigan's charter schools. Michigan houses more than 10,000 charter school teachers and over 1,500 charter administrators. This year, the organization received more than 700 nominations from parents, teachers, school leaders, and students for this honor.

Dischinger-Smedes was also recently recognized as one of two NHA teachers to be named a 2021 Betty Van Andel Teacher of Excellence.

Dischinger-Smedes has been with Grand River Prep for seven years and is changing the way students see the environment. Instead of letting the COVID-19 pandemic hinder his students’ abilities to grasp the information in his AP Environmental Science class, he took matters into his own hands.

He utilized non-teaching time when his students were not in school last spring to create high-quality lesson videos and posted them on his YouTube channel, which now has 3.07k subscribers.

“While I considered the possibility of other AP Environmental Science students and teachers finding them and watching them, I never anticipated anything like the number of views they’re receiving now,” said Dischinger-Smedes. “When I saw how many students tuned in for the review videos I uploaded a few days before the exam last spring, I decided to start producing the notes videos more intentionally and really trying to cover everything students would need to know for the exam so that if students wanted to self-study, or if they were in a district that wasn’t really equipped to provide high-quality instruction during distance learning this fall, they’d have access to all the content they need to do well on the exam at the end of the year.”
Photo courtesy of MAPSA – MI’s Charter School Association.

About National Heritage Academies:
NHA is a network of 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit