A Clinton County educator known for using nature-focused activities, such as sampling and testing water from Lake Michigan and a local river, to help students learn about science has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Cammie Jones, is a fourth-grade teacher at the Scott Elementary School in DeWitt. The school is part of the DeWitt 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 Jones 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 Jones at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Jones said she was attracted to a career in education because it offered opportunities “to establish meaningful relationships with children and families and to provide unique and memorable learning experiences.”
She said her favorite parts about being an educator are “designing engaging learning opportunities and witnessing the joy that students experience when they learn something new and feel the power of their own choices.”
Jones said she’s inspired to do her best each day in the classroom by “seeing my fourth-grade rock stars achieve accomplishments they didn’t know they were capable of.”
Jones has been an educator for 12 years, all with the DeWitt Public Schools, and has been in her current position for the past 11 years. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in humanities from Wheelock College, in Boston, and a master of arts degree in elementary education literacy instruction from Michigan State University.
Several people, mainly parents, nominated Jones for the award. One nomination noted that at the start of each school year she sends parents a questionnaire asking what subjects they want their children to focus upon and “she then follows through on them for the entire year for reach student. She is also a fantastic leader and helps others help themselves in the most graceful and encouraging way.”
Another nomination from a parent described Jones as “one of the most engaging, creative, gifted and invested teachers I know. Cammie solicits local experts and her out-of-the-box ideas have exceeded every expectation a parent can have.” The nomination noted that her students do water testing in the Looking Glass River, which runs through DeWitt, and also on Lake Michigan and raise quail and have a “Quail Olympics.” In addition, students take part in programs at the Lansing and Detroit zoos. Students also conduct a simulated Native American treaty council with Jones portraying historical figures with whom the students interact.
One nomination noted that Jones is “on her own quest to be a better guide, always open to new ideas and collaboration, searching for different ways to deeply engage students, including incorporating technology in the classroom. She has successfully written grants which have help to fund Camp Invention in DeWitt, provided Chromebooks to her classroom, and allowed students to perform water testing and research in the Great Lakes, just to give a few examples.”
“She is always looking for ways to enrich her student’s love of science and most importantly their love of each other and the world around them. She is one of the most energetic, empathetic, effective, and engaged teachers I have met. The environment of her classroom is full of inspiration and teamwork. Her class feels like one big family which is important in today’s world of bullying,” another nomination noted.
“Cammie sets high expectations for all stakeholders: students, parents, administrators, and herself. She knows that expectations affect achievement, and sets the standard high for effort, outcomes, and behavior. The way she converses with students is a wonder to witness; never losing patience, always showing consideration, and underlying all communication is a deep respect and belief in the uniqueness and potential of each individual. Students are consistently challenged and motivated to use their critical thinking skills and try new ‘perspectacles,’” another nomination noted.
A student nomination said: “Mrs. Jones is the best teacher in the whole wide world! She teaches children to love learning by making it fun and she actually cares about kids. She doesn’t do it for the money. She does everything she can for kids. She teaches us to be scientists, to feel safe, and to always trust our thinking and she is creative, kind, smart, and super fun.”
Excellence in Education award nominees are 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.