Five Michigan educators selected as finalists in classroom Innovation Contest

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LANSING, Mich. — Five Michigan educators have been chosen to advance as finalists in the Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest. Each of the finalists will advance to a pitch presentation on June 22, where first, second, and third place winners will be chosen. Winners will share $20,000 in business startup grants and receive additional legal and creative startup assistance to implement their ideas.

“Michigan schools have an opportunity to benefit from anyone who has ever thought, ‘I wish there was an app for that’ in an educational setting,” said Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO at Michigan Virtual. “This contest is an opportunity for real Michigan educators to directly impact classrooms by turning their dreams into reality, with the goal of improving teaching and learning for years to come.”

To enter the contest, Michigan educators and innovators must have submitted a written pitch by May 13 and finalists were notified the week of May 25. The Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest finalists and their ideas are:

  • Stephen Bodiya, a math teacher in Lake Orion, will present a standards-based digital grading tool that facilitates group grading to better track student progress.
  • Angela Jenkins and Julie Hamrick, teachers in Livonia, will present Selective, an online learning tool that integrates social emotional learning with academic practice.
  • Jacquelyn McPherson, an early childhood educator in Livonia, will present SocialCue, a digital resource for positive behavior interventions.
  • Garret Potter, an educator and graduate student from Ann Arbor, will present Everstory, an audio/visual encyclopedia exploration environment for early learners.
  • Robert Richards, a science teacher in Stockbridge, will present QB-Sat, a satellite-launch STEM kit and curriculum focused on engineering and space exploration.

“We know that those in the classroom setting are the best at identifying problems and finding solutions to help overcome barriers,” said Frank Urban, Director of Venture Creation – Life Sciences with Spartan Innovations. “The ideas being brought to life through the Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest will help Michigan think big and provide support for the next ideas that will make learning more effective and supportive for all.”

The Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest is the result of a partnership between Michigan State’s Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Spartan Innovations, a subsidiary of MSU Foundation, and Michigan Virtual, to bring educators’ ideas to life on ways to solve common classroom problems. 

“We have the resources and expertise to help Michigan teachers bring their ideas to fruition,” said Paul Jaques, Managing Director of Venture Creation with the MSU Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. “Our hope through this contest is to support innovative and entrepreneurial ideas that can be brought back to the classroom to advance learning and teaching through the use of existing or new technology.”

The first place winner will receive $10,000 in business startup grant funding, plus branding and logo design support, and legal consultation. The second place winner will receive $6,000 in business startup grant funding, plus logo design support and legal consultation. The third place winner will receive $4,000 in business startup grant funding, plus logo design support and legal consultation. 

Branding and legal support is being donated by Michigan Creative and Foster Swift. All monetary prizes will be made available in the form of grants from Michigan Virtual to the winners. Winners who are not yet formed as companies are still eligible to receive the monetary prize provided they form and register a legal business entity within three months of winning. Entity formation assistance can be provided.  

In addition to the grant funding for the top three winners, all participants are  eligible to attend an Innovation Bootcamp the week of July 18. The Bootcamp, which is provided at no cost to all pitch contest participants, is designed to help participants further explore and develop a business model around their idea while also introducing them to resources and supports that are available to entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan, as well as opportunities to bring entrepreneurial and innovation lessons into schools and classrooms

To learn more about the contest,  visit


About Michigan Virtual

Michigan Virtual is a nonprofit educational organization that is leading and collaborating to build learning environments for tomorrow. Driven by student success, we have a strong record of supporting Michigan education that spans more than two decades. While many know us for our research-based, quality online learning options for students and professional development for educators, we also do a great deal of work behind the scenes to conduct original research, test innovations in learning, and provide consulting partnerships to promote effective practices. Education is changing faster than ever. Discover new models and resources to move learning forward at