Kent County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

Audra Kowalski (second from right) poses for a photo with her husband, Ben Kowalski (second from left), principal, Tom Berriman (left) and Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo after accepting her Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery.

Audra Kowalski (second from right) poses for a photo with her husband, Ben Kowalski (second from left), principal, Tom Berriman (left) and Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo after accepting her Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery.

A Kent County educator known for bringing out the best in each student through individualized instruction and personal attention has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Audra Kowalski, is a fourth-grade teacher at the Byron Center Charter School. The public school academy offers kindergarten through 12th grade at its facility in Byron Center.

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 Kowalski will air Tuesday evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and Thursday evening in Detroit.

Audra Kowalski (right) talks with Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo prior to accepting her Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery.

Audra Kowalski (right) talks with Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo prior to accepting her Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery.

For the Excellence in Education awards program, the Lottery has teamed up with Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo. Izzo met recently with Kowalski at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.

Kowalski said her favorite parts about being an educator are “building relationships, witnessing the ‘Ah Ha!’ moments when students grasp a new concept, and taking part in students’ curiosity.”

“A career in education has always felt like a calling to me and there was never a question for me of what I would do. I love teaching, learning and working with children,” she said. “Every day, I’m motivated to put forth that extra effort when I look into a sea of curious faces of children excited to learn. My fellow teachers inspire me to be compassionate and determined and also are so supportive.”

Kowalski earned an associate’s degree from Grand Rapids Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University. She has been an educator for four years, teaching fourth-grade at the Byron Center Charter School.

She was nominated for the Excellence in Education award by the mother of two of her former students. The nomination noted that Kowalski “has an amazing ability to individualize instruction for each of her students. Both of my sons went from less confident in school to high self-esteem learners while under her tutelage. Every child in her class feels special just because of how she relates to them.”

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.
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