Fun, hands-on lessons with real-world connections are a staple of third-grade teacher Melissa McDermid's teaching at Kenbrook Elementary School in Farmington Hills. When teaching students about Medieval times, she has them become king or queen for a day; when teaching the impact of humans on the environment, she has them sit in a tent or a canoe. Ms. McDermid's students do more than learn curricular subjects—they build character as well during daily Morning Meetings that she facilitates. Ms. McDermid is chair of the school's North Central Accreditation School Improvement Steering Committee and a member of the district's curriculum writing and revision committees. She is very involved in helping students who speak no English assimilate into the school culture, and even supported one non-English-speaking student's family for two years with weekly tutoring, home visits and food baskets. When the family sought U.S. citizenship, Ms. McDermid turned it into a civics lesson for her class. Connections don't get more real-world than that.