A Kent County educator known for her dedication to immersion language learning in her classroom and for her efforts to advance the practice in west Michigan has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Sheryl Dalman, is a first-grade teacher specializing in Spanish immersion at Roguewood Elementary in Rockford. The school is part of the Rockford 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 Dalman will air Tuesday evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and Friday 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 Dalman at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Dalman said a “love for kids” attracted her to a career in education and her favorite part of being an educator is “helping kids realize they can do even more than they think, especially in a second language!
“One strategy I use in the classroom is to incorporate lots of music in the target language, in this case, Spanish. This can be specific children’s songs from Latin America, which help my students gain cultural perspective and vocabulary or it can be transitional songs that are just a creative way to say ‘now we’re going to do writing.’ I use a Venezuelan instrument, the cuatro, a four-stringed instrument smaller than a guitar, but bigger than a ukulele,” she said.
She added that she’s inspired to do her best every day in the classroom because “I work for a great district and I have very appreciative parents. Plus, I believe so strongly in immersion education. I’ve lived it and every day I see the tremendous benefits that it brings to students.
“I believe that immersion education is key to helping our children have jobs that will compete in the global society. It not only gives them another language, but helps them understand and enthusiastically accept other cultures. It’s such a thrill to watch my students grow in their fluency and the ease with which they can not only converse, but also study math, science, and social studies in a second language!”
Dalman holds a bachelor of science degree in church music from the Cincinnati Bible College, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and went on to earn a master of arts degree in teaching from the National College of Education, in Evanston, Ill. She also obtained a Spanish/bilingual endorsement from Aquinas College, in Grand Rapids. She has been teaching for 15 years, the last eight in her current position with the Rockford Public Schools District.
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Dalman noted that she “has a love for her students and knows how advantageous being bilingual could be to their lives. She not only has an online class page for her students, but also has a blog that helps others, not just educators, to appreciate the value of immersion education. She is an inspiration to not only her students, but to their parents as well as other educators.”
The nomination added that Dalman was instrumental in the founding of the West Michigan Alliance of Immersion Educators and currently serves as its president. The non-profit organization’s mission is “to help strengthen other immersion educators through providing professional development, action research, collaboration, and support the kindergarten-through-12th grade immersion schools in west Michigan.”
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.