The assistant principal of Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School’s west campus in North Aurora was named Teacher of the Year by the Plano Wal-Mart Supercenter. Mike Carter, who also teaches English, received a $100 Wal-Mart gift card for classroom supplies. The school received a $1,000 grant. Eric Isaacson, manager of the Wal-Mart Supercenter, presented the award to a surprised Carter at school on Sept. 19.
Carter, a Batavia resident who has worked at the alternative school since 1995, is among more than 4,000 teachers across the country being honored by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. one teacher is selected by each Wal-Mart store, Sam’s Club, Neighborhood Market store and Wal-Mart Distribution Center through nominations from members of the community. A recent graduate nominated Carter, calling him “the most amazing teacher I have ever known.”
“No matter what happens, he keeps his cool,” the student wrote. “He always knows the right things to say … Mr. Carter has been through a lot, like most of us, and is a good inspiration for all of us with his stories of overcoming obstacles and changing his life for the better.”
Lisa Grigsby, director of Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School, called Carter a “wonderful role model for his students.”
“Mike inspires his students to do their best every day,” Grigsby said. “It’s no surprise to us that one of his students would nominate him for Teacher of the Year, nor is it a surprise that Wal-Mart chose him for this honor! We can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
After earning a journalism degree from Indiana University in 1995, Carter often says he became a teacher “almost accidentally.” Carter intended to pursue a career in journalism but started working at the Therapeutic Day School as a full-time substitute teacher and then pursued a teaching certificate. He’s been there ever since.
“Once I heard someone say that the measure of success and happiness is doing a job that you would do for free,” Carter said. “As I always tell my students, if I won the lottery on Saturday, I’d be here Monday. I love what I do and am lucky to be here. I’d do it for nothing if I were independently wealthy!”
Since the Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year program began in 1995, the Wal-Mart Foundation has honored more than 30,000 teachers nationwide and donated more than $29 million to local schools. Last year, more than $67 million was provided in support of educational initiatives.
“Our area has fantastic teachers,” Isaacson said. “We are pleased to honor Mike Carter as the Teacher of the Year and share this great news with our community.”
Designed for children with learning disabilities and emotional and psychiatric problems, Adventist GlenOaks Therapeutic Day School was founded in 1995. Elementary through high-school age (grades 3 through 12) students earn normal academic credits while addressing their therapeutic goals. Along with traditional individual and group therapy, the school uses recreation, pets, music and art activities with certified therapists to help with physical, social and emotional growth.
The school is staffed by a caring group of teachers, nurses, social workers, therapists, clinical psychologists and a psychiatrist; there is one staff member for every three students. Its enrollment is approximately 120 students at north (main) campus in Glendale Heights, 40 at the west campus in North Aurora and 30 at the south campus in Glen Ellyn. The school is funded partly through local school districts in the six-county area that are reimbursed by the state and partly through Adventist GlenOaks Hospital and GlenOaks Hospital Foundation.