Exceptional Educator Award

Congratulations to Michele Saunders,

MIPA’s Exceptional Educator 2018



Each year, the Mercer Island Preschool Association (MIPA) honors a teacher, assistant, or administrator with the Exceptional Educator Award.  The award is presented to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to our preschool community. This year we congratulate Michele Saunders, a teacher at Sunnybeam School, on being selected the 2018 MIPA Exceptional Educator.  Michele has dedicated over 15 years to teaching preschool children, 5 of which have been at Sunnybeam School, and is incredibly deserving of this award.


MIPA received over 35 passionate and remarkable nomination letters for Michele from both parents and colleagues and former Sunnybeam families. The letters described the positive impact she has had on these families, children, and workplace. Recommendations commonly referred to Michele as a calm, compassionate, kind, thoughtful, loving, and attentive teacher.


One parent in particular wrote that no teacher had made an impact on their children and family the way that Michele had.  “Michele is endlessly empathetic, caring, nurturing, hard-working, diligent, thorough…the list goes on   Just last week, I received a lengthy email 30 minutes after my daughter’s school day ended, explaining why my child had had a rough day.  Michele checked in again later that evening and again in the morning.  Her dedication and concern for these children is unsurpassed.”




Another parent wrote, “Michele is a wonder.  She is everything you hope for in a preschool teacher: positive, patient, kind, curious, flexible and knowledgeable. Michele sees the good in every student — and customizes the Sunnybeam learning experience to the needs of each individual child. She embodies the spirit of Sunnybeam — a ray of sunshine that children are drawn to. “


On Wednesday, May 30th, Michele was surprised by students, parents, former Sunnybeam families, colleagues, and MIPA Board members, all whom gathered to celebrate her big achievement. Congratulations to Michele Saunders for being the 2018 MIPA Exceptional Educator!


Past Winners:

2017 Winner- Kathy Morey of Creative Learning Center

2016 Winner- Laura Selby of Stroum Jewish Community Center

2015 Winner- Jen Headrick of Pixie Hill Preschool

2014 Winner – Talina Birashk of St. Monica’s Parish School

2013 Winner – Alex Cruz of Patti’s Play Center

2012 Winner – David Weston of Sunnybeam School

2011 Winner – Lynn Ahringer of Early World Montessori

2010 Winner – Molly van der Burch of Pebble Preschool

2009 Winner – Lisa Given of Lisa’s Little School

2008 Winner – Rita Macomber of Emmanuel Day School

2007 Winner – Mary Ann Haney of Sunnybeam School

2006 Winner – Ann Connolly of Pixie Hill Preschool

2005 Winner – Judy Witmer of Mercer Island Learning Lab


MIPA is grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

MVP Sponsor

Platinum Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Silver Sponsors


Bronze Sponsors

Carrie K. York, DDS


Lewis & Gibson Dentistry