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Trans Educator Named Michigan Teacher of the Year

Owen

Owen Bondono says it's his mission to make sure all students feel safe and supported.

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Owen Bondono, a teacher in Oak Park, Mich., who is queer and transgender, has been named Michigan Teacher of the Year.

"My goal is to always make sure students, whether they are marginalized because of their race, their ethnicity or their gender identity, their sexual orientation, that they feel safe in school," Bondono, a ninth-grade language arts teacher at Oak Park High School, told Detroit TV station WJBK.

"I know from a personal standpoint how vulnerable you feel when you're not safe and how when you feel that vulnerable everything else takes a back seat," added Bondono, who believes he's the first trans teacher to receive the Michigan honor. He's now a candidate for National Teacher of the Year.

"I want educators to see that it's urgently necessary that we support these students," he continued. "I want students to see that they are supported and loved and that their future is possible. I want parents of LGBTQ students to see that their children have a future."

Oak Park Superintendent of Schools Jamii Hitchcock praised Bondono's work. "I can say without a doubt that Owen has dedicated himself," she told WJBK. "He doesn't just talk the talk -- he walks the walk every single day to ensure that equity and justice is served. Every time he walks into the classroom it has an impact on the students he teaches."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.