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Excellence in Teaching Award a Culmination of Emotions

Note: This is one in a series recognizing winners of the 2021-22 NHA Excellence Awardsa program that honors educators, deans, and administrative teams across our network.

It was a normal assembly, one that Legacy Charter Academy has every Friday. But this one brought Third Grade Teacher Jamie Bathurst to tears.

As the kindergarten to fifth grade students in attendance were getting ready for dismissal, Principal Nate Tomlinson said he had some math to do. He recited some statistics regarding National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) Excellence Awards for the 2021-22 school year and announced that Bathurst and Second Grade Teacher Megan Polson were finalists.

Teacher finalists.
Jamie Bathurst (Left) and Megan Polson (right) both were Excellence in Teaching finalists.

After the cheers and applause died down, Tomlinson said he had even more math to go over. Just then, the doors opened and Bathurst’s family walked in – her husband, two kids, and parents, all carrying flowers and balloons. Dean of Grades 2-3 Jennifer Lupo handed her the award, and the emotion got the best of her.

“I was in utter shock. I bawled like a baby,” Bathurst said. “It was a great surprise.”

Teacher hugging family.
Jamie Bathurst's family came to Legacy Charter Academy to help celebrate her being honored as an Excellence in Teaching winner.
Even with her husband keeping the surprise a secret from the kids until the day of the announcement, her family’s cover was almost blown. Bathurst had a feeling something was going on when she noticed through the Ring doorbell notification that her husband and kids had left at 7:50 a.m. instead of about an hour later but didn’t chalk it up to much.

Bathurst, who always has known she wanted to be a teacher, is in her 10th year at Legacy, which has outperformed the local district for seven years. She said the friendships and relationships she has formed among her colleagues keep her coming back each year.

“The sense of community that we’ve always had is comforting,” she said. “We’re like a family here.”

Bathurst said she takes pride in how many positive relationships she has formed with students. From her first group of students 10 years ago to eighth graders who find their way downstairs, they drop by to say hi and give her an update on what they’ve been doing.

Teacher with winner banner.
Jamie Bathurst, Excellence in Teaching 2021-2022 Winner
“Jamie is not only an amazing teacher but also an amazing coworker and friend,” Tomlinson said. “She has a huge heart and is always willing to lend someone a helping hand. She genuinely cares about how her students and coworkers are feeling. She’s always looking for ways to brighten someone’s day. Jamie has made a huge impact on everyone here at Legacy and we are better for it.

Teacher with school staff.
From left, Dean of Grades 2-3 Jennifer Lupo, Jamie Bathurst, and Principal Nate Tomlinson.
Keep up the excellent work, Mrs. Bathurst!
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About Legacy Charter Academy
Legacy Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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