Now more than ever, teachers deserve a hearty round of applause and recognition for their herculean efforts to educate and encourage students while navigating an always changing pandemic. Below are this year’s Top 7 Red Hot Best winning teachers, as voted on by our readers.
A record-breaking 16,000 people voted in MyNorth’s 2021 Red Hot Best Awards, recognizing winners from across seven regions and 46 different categories in Northern Michigan. The categories include everything from healthcare and frontline workers to takeout and hiking trails. This is how we celebrate Northern Michigan!

Searching for the full winner’s list? Here are the Red Hot Best Winners 2021: The Best of Northern Michigan.

Above the Bridge Winner

Heather May, Mackinac Island Public School, Mackinac Island

Ms. May teaches music and art at the Pre-K through Grade 12 school—with approximately 60 students! Kids walk or ride bikes to school in the fall and spring, and come winter, snowmobiles are the most common mode of transportation.

View the full list of Above the Bridge Red Hot Best winners to find the best dentists, home care professionals and more.

Benzie & Leelanau Winner

Racquel Huddleston, Benzie Central, Benzonia

Racquel Huddleston has been a teacher at Benzie Central Middle/High School since 1995. She knows the school well, having graduated there a “little” while ago. Mrs. Huddleston teaches biology and also coaches middle school track, 7th-grade girls’ basketball and helps facilitate the Recycling trailer for Benzie Recyclers.

View the full list of Benzie and Leelanau Red Hot Best winners to find the best wineries, trails and more.

Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington Winner

Bryan Morgan, OJ DeJonge Middle School, Ludington

Mr. Morgan has had training in PBL (Project-Based Learning), which helps students learn by doing through solving problems, participating in simulations, conducting case studies and designing research projects.

View the full list of Cadillac, Manistee & Ludington Red Hot Best winners to find the best wedding venues, outdoor dining and more.

Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes Winner

Jennifer Hall, Lakeland Elementary, Elk Rapids

Mrs. Hall has been teaching in the Elk Rapids District since 2007, after graduating from Saginaw Valley State University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood Education.

View the full list of Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes region Red Hot Best winners to find the best hotels, events and more.

Gaylord, Kalkaska & Grayling Winner

Tawni Deike, Forest Area High School, Fife Lake

Mrs. Deike teaches math and music to Fife Lake students. Her motto: “We study math to understand the universe; we study music to understand the soul.”

View the full list of Gaylord, Kalkaska and Grayling Red Hot Best winners to find the best breweries, gift shops and more.

Petoskey, Harbor Springs & The Straits Winner

Robin Crane, Concord Academy of Petoskey, Petoskey

Robin Crane is a special education teacher at Concord Academy. The K-12 school works to develop critical and creative thinking through the integration of fine arts into the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), utilizing project-based instruction and multi-age experiences.

View the full list of Petoskey, Harbor Springs and The Straits Red Hot Best winners to find the best golf courses, happy hour and more.

Traverse City Winner

Chandra Fles, Traverse Heights Elementary, Traverse City

Chandra Fles teaches third grade at Traverse Heights, one of 11 elementary schools in the TCAPS District. The school has 17 container gardens, an outdoor hoop house, an indoor greenhouse and solar panels installed on the roof to produce energy and also educational opportunities.

View the full Traverse City Red Hot Best winners list to find the best dentists, food trucks and more.

Photo(s) by Yan Krukov