An Ottawa County educator known for her enthusiasm, creating a positive learning environment, and dedication to helping her students advance academically and as individuals has been honored with an Excellence of Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kristen Bickel, is a second grade teacher at Woodside Elementary School in Holland. Woodside Elementary is part of the West Ottawa Public Schools district.
The Michigan Lottery recently established the Excellence in Education awards to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state during the school year.
Winners of the weekly award receive a plaque, a $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, and FOX 47 in Lansing. The news segment featuring Bickel will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and then on Thursday in Detroit.
For the Excellence in Education awards program, the Lottery has teamed up with Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo. Izzo met recently with Bickel at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Bickel said her favorite part of being an educator is that “every day is different and there’s always a chance to learn something new and make a difference in someone’s life.”
She added that her students motivate her to do her best every day. “It’s seeing my students’ faces light up when they finally understand a new concept! It’s also watching my students develop a love and a passion for learning,” she said.
Bickel has been an educator for 25 years, all as a second grade teacher in the West Ottawa Public Schools district. She said she was attracted to a career in education while attending Michigan State University and “an accidental schedule change exposed me to the joys of teaching.”
Bickel was nominated by a parent who had two children taught by her. The nomination noted that both children “ended the year sad that Mrs. Bickel would no longer be their teacher. From Bickel Bucks to Bickel’s Bucket Fillers, from Learn the Globe to Word of the Day, Beach Days, and crazy shirts to the customization of each child’s learning, there is no doubt she is one of the greats. She does what she does because she cares about the kids and she wants to help each of them move forward in their own way.”
Bickel earned a bachelor’s degree in child development and education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in education from Western Michigan University.
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 will be 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.