An Ingham County educator known for melding together a variety of subjects to create memorable daily lessons and for organizing and leading an annual four-day nature center camping trip for students has been honored with an Excellence of Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Diane Allen, is a fourth-grade teacher at the Attwood Elementary School in Lansing. The fourth- through sixth-grade school is part of the Lansing 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 award receive a plaque, a $500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or school district. One of the 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 Allen first aired Tuesday evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and Thursday night 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 Allen at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Allen said her favorite part of being an educator is “the students’ excitement when they learn something new.” She added, “I love when I hear them teach each other or explain why a concept is important.”
A stint as a swimming instructor when she was a teenager put her on the path to becoming an educator. “I found it an awesome experience to watch someone who was reluctant or afraid then gain skills and confidence and become accomplished,” she said. “After experiencing that, I volunteered to tutor kids and found my ‘calling.’”
Allen said her students motivate her to do her best every day. “They deserve my best efforts every day. They deserve to be valued and learn as much as they can to reach their potential. They need me.”
Allen has been an educator with the Lansing Public Schools for 26 years and has been at Attwood Elementary for the past 10 years.
She earned a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and a master of arts degree in curriculum and teaching, both from Michigan State University. She also takes continuing education classes from Montana State University.
Allen was nominated for the award by a colleague at Attwood Elementary. The nomination noted that parents ask for their children to be assigned to her classroom “where students are respected as well as respectful and learning is the highest priority. She is a teacher’s teacher. In her classroom, learning is focused and efficient, yet she maintains leeway for students to tailor their own learning for maximum benefit. She is a master of integration. Math activities occur in science. Social studies overlap in literacy. Art and music augment her core subjects. She teaches it all. Her eyeball, heart and squid dissections are high-impact lessons that engage and thrill the students yet allow for individual learning possibilities.”
The nomination noted that she is creative in searching out opportunities for field trips and for bringing in outside speakers. “All of these things are freely shared and/or organized for the whole school.” The field trip highlight is a four-day camping experience for 60 students at the Ebersole Environmental Education Center in Wayland.
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.