Earlier this year, Matinga Ragatz was honored at The White House for the second time. This year, she was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame after spending nearly 20 years inspiring students at Grand Ledge High School.
Born in Spain and raised in Germany, Ragatz started out wanting to follow the footsteps of her Equatorial Guinea native parents and become a diplomat.
Eventually, her husband moved to mid-Michigan to study at Michigan State University. She followed and soon fell in love with a different profession.
"I thought I'd get a quick teaching degree... I started teaching and I never looked back," said Ragatz. "I found something that I thought I could make a mark in and that's why I became a teacher."
Ragatz spent the majority of her time teaching a social studies, global studies and world history at Grand Ledge High School.
"I never taught the same lesson year after year," said Ragatz. "Every year we went to a different part of the world, whether it was East Asia, whether it was Africa, whether it was Europe, South America... where there was news, we went."
Her innovative teaching style won her many honors. She was named Michigan Teacher of the Year in 2011. It was the first time she was invited to The White House and met then President Barack Obama.
In 2017, she was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Kansas. This past spring, she met President Donald Trump.
"It is always very enlightening to see the heart of the nation," said Ragatz. "It wasn't about meeting the President, it was about being honored in the people's house."
Ragatz has left the classroom and is now an independent educational consultant based out of the Lansing area.