The award winner, Brandi Gillson, is a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Ann J. Kellogg Elementary, which is part of Battle Creek Public Schools.
The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards in 2014 to recognize outstanding public-school educators across the state during the school year.
Winners of the weekly award receive a plaque, a $1,500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school, or school district. One of the weekly winners will be selected as the Educator of the Year and will receive a $10,000 cash prize.
Each winner also is featured in a news segment on the Lottery’s media partner stations: WXYZ-TV in Detroit, FOX 17 in Grand Rapids, FOX 47 in Lansing, and WNEM-TV in Saginaw. The news segment featuring Gillson will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Gillson said a college assignment led her to a career in education.
“I did a project at my community college and it required me to go back to my elementary school to interview someone. Once I got in the hallways again, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I had so many excellent teachers throughout my schooling, that I wanted to be that for a child someday.”
She said witnessing the moment a student figures out something new is her favorite part of being an educator.
“Watching the lightbulb go off when the students finally understand something is my favorite part of being an educator. Years later, when I see or hear from one of my students and they share something from when they had me as a teacher that they loved also is very rewarding for me.”
Gillson’s former mentor, Bob Egelkraut, nominated her for the award. The nomination cited her dedication to her students and willingness to go above and beyond for them.
“Brandi’s unique style makes her approachable for staff, students and parents alike. She takes time to understand the child and build relationships with each. She is a strong female role model who reminds kids what a good education can do for them in the near future. She has gone beyond and above the average classroom teacher.
Brandi has worked primarily in urban settings throughout her teaching career. She provides supplemental materials for her class. She has raised thousands of dollars using Go Fund Me to make her classes melt into learning. She has used these funds for ordering at home reading materials, additional science experiment materials and even health products for maturing young people. If there is a way to reach a child, she has done it using her extraordinary strategies. Her loud, loving personality gives her “My Favorite Teacher” status year after year.
Throughout her career Brandi has participated on district and building level committees as well as union negotiating teams. She is the district go to person for teachers trying to understand continually changing curriculums in Math and Science. Brandi has organized Parent Night and Love of Learning Nights for families to come to school and understand and participate in what their children are learning. She has the respect of not only her colleagues, moreover, the parents and the neighborhood that she is a part of. Parents and students can contact her at any time of day, or night. She maintains contacts with literally hundreds of past students and parents through social media and takes time to encourage and mentor.
Many urban educators survive each day in the classroom, she thrives on positive energy and ensures her students education is the way to a successful life.”
Gillson earned a bachelor’s degree from Olivet College and master’s degree from Western Michigan University. She has been an educator for 26 years, all of them with Battle Creek Public Schools.
Outstanding public-school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at http://bit.ly/ExcellenceInEducation or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.
Excellence in Education award nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Excellence – Their work consistently helps students and/or their schools or school districts advance to higher levels of academic achievement.
- Dedication – They consistently go above and beyond expectations to help students succeed.
- Inspiration – Their work inspires others around them to exceed expectations either academically or professionally.
- Leadership – They demonstrate clear leadership skills in their positions with their school or school districts.
- Effectiveness – The nominee’s work has clear and positive results on the educational advancement of students within the school or school district.