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UCS honors its Teachers of the Year



Utica Community Schools celebrated its three Teachers of the Year for their service and commitment.

The three honorees are:

  • Michael Sekich, Stevenson Band – High School and UCS Teacher of the Year. Mr. Sekich was also named the Macomb County High School Teacher of the Year.
  • Derek Smith, Shelby Junior High – Junior High School Teacher of the Year
  • Karen Borbolla, Morgan Elementary – Elementary Teacher of the Year

“Utica Community Schools is proud to honor these outstanding educators for their legacy of excellence and their work to empower our students and their success,” Superintendent Robert Monroe said. “I’ve been fortunate to work closely with each of these outstanding teachers, and I know them to be strong advocates who represent an entire UCS team driven to student success.”

The teachers were honored with classroom visits on April 2. Each awardee was provided a $500 mini grant from the UCS Foundation.

Michael Sekich
Band Teacher
Stevenson High School
UCS High School Teacher of the Year
UCS Teacher of the Year
Macomb County High School Teacher of the Year

Mr. Sekich

Mr. Sekich has worn many hats in his years in Utica Community Schools: student, band teacher, district curriculum chair and parent.

In each role, he has made a lasting impact that has made a generations of difference. He been an educational leader within the district and at state and national levels. He has provided students with successful experiences that have been honored on fields and concert halls across the state and country. 

“His legacy is etched into the hearts of those who have a love for music,” his nomination reads.  

In a letter of support, the Austerman family said Sekich’s influence goes beyond the classroom.

“Mr. Sekich’s strengths as an educator become the strengths of the students he teaches," they wrote. “Under his guidance, students learn integrity, compassion and responsibility in addition to their participation in award-winning ensembles.”


Derek Smith
Ancient History and AP Human Geography
Shelby Junior High School
Junior High School Teacher of the Year

Mr. Smith

Mr. Smith has made an impact that goes well beyond the walls of Shelby Junior High School.

He has made ancient history come alive for his students. In addition, he has connected his students to the community through the multiple charity drives he sponsors on behalf of the school. He also serves as the school’s Athletic Director.

“Derek has a great ability to provide for student’s needs at an individual level,” his nomination reads. “Everything Derek does positively benefits both his students and the school community as a whole.”

Shelby student Erdi Buni sees history in a whole new light, thanks to Mr. Smith.

“He has made learning about the past so much more exciting and meaningful,” he said. “Mr. Smith is an extraordinary teacher and I’m so grateful to be a student of his!”


Karen Borbolla
Elementary Art
Morgan Elementary
Elementary Teacher of the Year

Mrs. Borbolla

There are many ways to describe Karent Borbolla’s relationship to Utica Community Schools: former student, art teacher, department chair and parent.

But the words that most often come to mind are those that describe the deep impact she has had on those who have been part of her classroom and life.

“I don’t know a better example whose energy, enthusiasm, activates, inspires and motivates within and across our district on every level of teaching,” is how she is described in her nomination.

But what do her students think? Here is a sample:

  • “She brings love into her classroom.”
  • “She is kind, flexible, happy and loving!”
  • “Mrs. Borbolla is the best artist ever.”