Micka surprised with Bob’s Award

By Tony Racy, Sam Lopez, and Rachel Krambeer

Students — current and past — and colleagues packed into the atrium to celebrate Susie Micka and her dedication to her students and Lawrence High Tuesday morning

Micka, who leads the IPS classes and Unified Sports program, teared up as she was surprised with the Special Award for Excellence in Teaching, otherwise known as the Bobs Award. The $10,000 award is given by anonymous civic leaders who are all named Bob. Only one teacher or principal in Lawrence Public Schools may win the award each year.

“All of my breath left my body,” Micka said of walking into the atrium where people were cheering for her. “I knew something serious was up when I saw my parents and my kids and my husband. When I looked up I felt like I was the ghost of IPS past to see all of my students — some of the past several years — which made me know it would be a very special thing. I’m very happy it was delivered at a time when my IPS family was there.”

Students helped nominate her for the honor.

“Just coming into class every day, the way that she dedicates herself and you can really see that in the way she talks to all of her students and the effort she put in outside of class to plan different outside of class activities or listen to certain podcasts or read different books just so we can have the best experience,” said junior Audrey Basham, who helped nominate Micka for the award by pulling together a video featuring current and former students.

Micka’s also coaches Unified Sports and helped start the Literacy Workshop program at LHS.

During Micka’s time teaching IPS, the program has expanded to two classes and has added Unified Sports — an athletic program through the Special Olympics. The IPS program practices and spreads inclusive practices with students being recognized through the national Special Olympics program.

“She knows how to show her emotions and bring the emotions out of her students,” junior Jackson Martin said. “She really knows how to make people have a positive attitude through school and that’s why I took IPS in the first place. She can really make us spread inclusion. She’s the best teacher, hands down.”

IPS’s work expands into the community, including for such activities as Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics.

“Especially outside of school, I think IPS people think it’s just in the building but like we really do so much out of school and she dedicates so much time to it,” senior Katherine Stineman said.

To Micka’s students, the choice to award Micka was obvious.

“I think Susie deserves this award because she is one of the most supportive teachers I have ever had, and she goes above and beyond to care and give to her students,” Stineman said. “Everything she has, even when it might not be possible, she finds a way to do it.”

Even students who graduated in the past still feel Micka’s impact and many returned to watch the surprise announcement.

“She expresses so much care for her students,” 2019 graduate Laura Willoughby said. “She just has such a big impact on all of us and I know all of her students love her.”

“I think she puts her entire heart on the line when she does this class or any class in general,” 2020 graduate Carly Cooper said. “I just think she is very well deserving of this.”

Micka said that IPS has grown over the past 11 years since she first started teaching into an inclusive leadership class “where it is not the job of a student to change their behavior to fit in with our expectations but its onerous is on the greater population to accept everyone as they are and who they are and find ways to include everyone.”

“I do think IPS has done some big things — I’ve seen a culture shift at Lawrence High School and I attribute that in part to the IPS family and the work they have done over the past 10 years,” she said. “I’m humbled because I know we don’t walk alone in these paths. Having the award delivered at a time when all of my families were together was super special for me because my personal family and my school family and my IPS family doesn’t always get to intersect so that was really neat.”