STEVENSVILLE — A switch from being a nurse for 13 years to teaching high school students about nursing led Savannah DeVries of Galien to be named the 2019 New Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Association for Career & Technical Education.

She teaches two introduction into health care classes at St. Joseph High School in the morning and then travels to Lakeshore High School, where she teaches a Certified Nursing Assistant program in the afternoon. Both classes are taught through the Berrien County CTE consortium.

“I have been blessed beyond belief,” she told Lakeshore school board trustees Monday. “... As a nurse, I will admit I was very nervous about making the transition over to education, not because I didn’t have a passion for it, because I did, ... but anytime you start something new, especially after a decade or more in what is comfortable, it is a little nerve-wracking.”

She said the staff at both high schools have been very supportive during her first year as a teacher.

“This really solidifies that I made the right decision coming here,” she said. “I love my students. We have done such amazing projects. I’ve really seen them get excited about healthcare.”

DeVries will receive her award Jan. 28 at the Michigan Career Education Conference in Grand Rapids. She now moves on to the next round of the national competition.

Lakeshore High School Principal Brad Brunner said there were a couple of strong candidates who applied for the dual position. But he said DeVries came to the top when the candidates were asked to teach sample lessons to a group of students.

He said that he, along with St. Joseph High School’s CTE Director Jim Berry, jointly sent in the nomination for DeVries to be named the new teacher of the year.

DeVries said the last job she had before switching to teaching was as the manager of the Oncology Service Line at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

“Professionally, I had reached the farthest I wanted to go within the inpatient setting,” she said earlier in the day. “... I missed that fulfillment you get when you directly affect somebody. But professionally, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to the bedside, so this appealed to me. It’s really fun to see the kids because they’re so interested in learning this sort of thing and everything you teach them is brand new. That I like.

Contact:, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege