Six Faculty Members Honored for 24 Years of Service at Okemos Public Schools

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It was a chilly, snowy January night outside, but the Okemos Public Schools board meeting had a different feeling than that of a mid-Michigan winter.

            Six faculty members were recognized by the board that night for attaining 24 years of service with the district.

            “When I look at this list, I know personally how much each and every one of these individuals has impacted our kids over time,” Superintendent of Schools John Hood said. “Their commitment to lifelong learning as educators, commitment to serving students has been remarkable.”

Faculty recognizedJob title
Kelly CarrierScience Teacher at Okemos High School
Stacy ChristensenArt Teacher at Chippewa Middle School
Jennifer EddyGifted & Talented Coordinator for the District
Rachel Freeman-BaldwinEnglish Teacher at Okemos High School
Susan GidenerFood Service Worker for the District
Marie Smith2nd Grade Teacher at Bennett Woods Elementary School

            While the moment didn’t last much longer than some words from Hood and a round of applause from those in attendance at the meeting, the journey that each faculty member has been on over the past 24 years is individually unique.

            Rachel Freeman-Baldwin teaches 9th and 12th grade English at Okemos High School. Freeman-Baldwin grew up in Okemos and is a product of Okemos Public Schools. She knew early on what she wanted to do for her career.

“From the time I was three years old on, I wanted to be a teacher,” Freeman-Baldwin said. “I think I was born to teach.”

Contrary to Freeman-Baldwin, science teacher at Okemos High School Kelly Carrier didn’t have a plan when he was in college, but he knew he was good at something.

“What I always found was that I had an interest in science,” Carrier said. “And I was kind of good at it.”

Carrier was in the military, spending most of his time at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, before being in the National Guard for 12 years, then attending Lansing Community College and eventually Michigan State University.

He’s stayed in Okemos schools for over 24 years for a multitude of reasons.

“The students are good,” Carrier added. “The community cares. I have colleagues that support and also challenge, and I appreciate that. It makes me better.”

After attending Okemos schools, Freeman-Baldwin studied English and History and the University of Michigan. She completed a master’s degree program and earned her teaching certificate. She started her teaching career in West Bloomfield but was “lured” back to Okemos by some of her former teachers and the community.

“The community here is amazing,” Freeman-Baldwin said. “They support education and it’s a community where when you’re in need, people rise, and they help. And I don’t think there’s a better place to be than someplace that likes to take care of the people within the community and has a family feel.”

Using her platform as a teacher, Freeman-Baldwin runs a volunteer program at Okemos High School called ACTION. Students can give back to the community through the program.

“Within that, it’s just amazing to see the kids who get these opportunities to give back to our community,” Freeman-Baldwin said. “And then they come back to me 10, 15 years later and are like ‘Hey, do you remember when we did that Habitat for Humanity house and we painted? Well, I just organized that for my workplace.’ Or ‘Do you remember taking me to the community kitchen and giving me the opportunity to serve? Well, now I do that weekly.’ Those moments where kids come back, when they’re adults, when they come back years later, it’s just like ‘oh, you made an impact.’

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