As teacher appreciation week winds down, CLUTCH wanted to take a moment to shout out a teacher making a difference not only in her community, but also throughout the world. 

Matinga Ragatz is a force to be reckoned with. The Michigan teacher has been hailed as the 2011 Teacher of the Year by her state and as an “Innovative Teacher” by tech giant Microsoft for her unconventional instruction style and ability to bring the world into her classroom.  But what’s so amazing about Ms. Ragatz is her knack for engaging her students and inspiring them to think outside of what is familiar.

Currently on year-long sabbatical, Ms. Ragatz teaches social studies and global languages at Grand Ledge High School and thinks traveling is an essential part of teaching her students to think globally.

“In order to add a more globalization to the classroom, I’ve taken the students abroad. Part of a twenty-first century skill set is for students to be taught globalization and for me, it’s a paradox not to include travel in their education,” she told me last summer.

Ms. Ragatz’ commitment isn’t just to her students in Michigan, she’s also working to develop education-based projects in West Africa and is opening an innovative farm school in Arusha, Tanzania.

Despite all of the criticisms teachers face, Ms. Ragatz is a shining example of what’s right in our schools. Her dedication to her students and her willingness to incorporate new technology, a rigorous student-centered curriculum, and her passion for showing her students the world is much larger than their neighborhoods makes Ms. Ragatz a woman worthy of our praise.

Did a teacher inspire you? How did they change your life and/or perspective? 

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