An Alpena County educator known for bringing real-life experiences into the classroom, including a program that creates a student-run economy in her school, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kellie Poli, is a fourth-grade teacher at the Lincoln Elementary School in Alpena. The school is part of the Alpena 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 Poli 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 Poli at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Poli said she “wanted to be a teacher my whole life” and is excited to witness the moment when a student first grasps an idea or concept. “I love to see the light bulb come on and the obvious connection happening. That happens differently for every student and I anxiously await each one!” she said.
“I also love seeing parents make connections! Parents sometimes feel that ‘today’s school’ is so different. When my students can demonstrate a different way of thinking to their parents, it makes them very excited. That’s a great learning for all of us,” she said.
Poli said she’s inspired to do her best each day in the classroom because of her commitment to her students. “I want my students to be successful, productive members of society,” she said. “That happens when they have real-life experiences and they make connections in their learning.”
Poli has been an educator for 20 years, the last 18 with the Alpena Public Schools, and has been teaching fourth grade for the past 14 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree from Spring Arbor University.
Poli was nominated for the Excellence in Education award by her school’s principal, Hans Stevens.
In the nomination, Stevens described Poli as “a master teacher who goes above and beyond for our school and the community. She is the coordinator of our Kids’ Zone program, a student-run economy within our school, and her passion for this real-life experience for our students is a key reason for its success. Kellie also chairs our annual Pancake Supper, an important fund-raiser and an event that helps us connect with our community. Our school, with a large at-risk population, needs programs and events like these that bring parents and students together to the school in a positive atmosphere.”
The nomination noted that Poli and her husband, who also is an educator, “are regular contributors to ‘Time Out Magazine,’ a local monthly publication for families.”
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.