An Ingham County educator known for challenging students to do their best and inspiring them to excel every day plus serving as an advisor to a school community service club has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Rachel Freeman-Baldwin, is an English teacher at Okemos High School, where she has been teaching for 16 years.
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 Freeman-Baldwin will air Tuesday evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and Thursday evening 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 Freeman-Baldwin at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Freeman-Baldwin said her favorite part about being an educator is “hearing from former students who were positively impacted by our time together. There’s no better feeling.”
“I’ve always wanted to teach. I love working with people; I love helping others find success. Teaching students to write well is a difficult process, but I work hard to help each student find his or her own voice. It is my goal to have every student leave my classroom a stronger, more confident writer,” she said. “The smile on a student’s face after he or she finds success is incredibly inspiring.”
Freeman-Baldwin earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history and a master’s degree in teaching and curriculum, both from the University of Michigan. She also earned a master’s degree in educational administration from Michigan State University.
She was nominated for the Excellence in Education award by one of her former students, who wrote:
“Her classroom is a fun environment where student personal development is the No. 1 priority and students excel. Mrs. Freeman-Baldwin inspires her students to be the best person that they could be and challenges them to excel every moment of every day. The students in her class make sure their work is done because anything other than your best is not an option with Mrs. Freeman-Baldwin. Everyone wants to do their homework because they don’t want to let her down.”
The nomination noted that Freeman-Baldwin’s role as advisor to All Connecting To Improve Our Neighborhood – the community service club at Okemos High School – is an example of her dedication to her students, the school, and the community.
About half the students at Okemos High School are involved in the club and events supporting nearly 40 organizations in the community, the nomination said. “Her dedication to services inspires her students to get involved at an early age.”
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.