A Wayne County educator known for the many hours he spends tutoring struggling students after school and encouraging them to stay in school and improve academically has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, David Menczer, is a ninth-grade teacher specializing in algebra at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Detroit. The school is part of the Detroit 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 Menczer 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 Menczer at the Breslin Center and presented him with the award.
Menczer said he was attracted to a career in education because it offered him “the ability to have a positive influence on young adults and their future.”
He said one of his favorite parts of being an educator is seeing “the look in a student’s eyes when the light bulb comes on and they finally understand a concept they’ve struggled to learn.” Another favorite part is “when I do my end of year interviews with my students and we look back at a year of consistent growth together.”
Menczer said his inspiration to do his best every day in the classroom comes from a number of sources: “God, my wife, other staff members, my administrators, my students, and the daily news.”
Menczer earned a bachelor of science degree with a concentration in sociology and a minor in mathematics from the University of Michigan and master of arts in teaching mathematics from the University of Detroit Mercy. He also has earned a national board certification. He’s been an educator for 23 years, all with the Detroit Public Schools district and has been in his current position for the past three years.
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Menczer noted that he “cares about his students. He spends hours each week staying after school, tutoring, encouraging and being a reliable presence in their lives.”
A modest Menczer said that “like many educators, I continue to use any available free time to help students. Sometimes they want tutoring, other times they want to use a computer to print a paper, or they just want to talk. Daily I have students in my classroom during both my prep and lunch hours and also before and after school.”
Menczer constantly is on the lookout for new ways to help students learn, the nomination said. “I have a passion and drive to keep trying new things to reach all of my students without lowering the bar of expectations,” he said.
The nomination added: “An example of what makes David Menczer a true inspiration came at his previous school where he was in charge of detention. Instead of just having the students sit there, he taught them to play chess. Soon, students were coming to detention so they could join their friends and learn how to play chess. They formed a club and some of these students were competing at the national levels and came home with trophies.”
Menczer said that success came when he ran the chess club at Detroit’s Southwestern High School from 1998 to 2006.
“At its peak, there were 40 students playing chess. These were students from a very wide variety of backgrounds, from autistic kids who couldn’t speak to the most popular students in the school. In fact, one year the cheerleaders came to one of our matches to cheer for us. We were the first team in the state of Michigan to win a trophy at the highest level of national competition in 1999. Many of our students won both individual and team awards,” he said.
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.