A Clare County educator known for guiding students to new and challenging ways to learn and for incorporating technology into her classroom has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Donna Venglar, teaches fourth grade at the Clare Primary School, in Clare. The school is part of the Clare Public Schools.
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 Venglar 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 Venglar at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Venglar said her experience as a mother led her to a career in education. “I enjoyed raising my own children so much that once they were independent enough, I went back to school so I could start a career in teaching,” she said.
She said helping students to grow academically and as individuals is her favorite part of being an educator. “I love empowering students to be the best they can be,” she said, adding that her students motivate her to do her best every day: “They make it all worthwhile.”
Venglar has been an educator for 12 years and has taught fourth grade in the Clare Public Schools for the past four years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Hawaii-Manoa and a master’s degree in kindergarten-through-12th grade reading and literacy from Central Michigan University.
The Excellence in Education award nomination, submitted by a colleague, described Venglar as “an innovator and a champion for children. She cares about each and every student. As a master teacher, Mrs. Venglar uses data to meet the learning needs of her students. Her classroom is not just a classroom. It is an environment where fourth graders become investigators, collaborators, writers, publishers and historians! Mrs. Venglar empowers her students to learn in exciting and challenging ways. Students have ownership of their learning goals and work as members of the classroom society to grow and progress as learners and people.”
The nomination noted that Venglar “and her students use technology embedded within all that they do as her students have a one-to-one iPad classroom. In addition, Mrs. Venglar is a team leader with her staff at the Clare Primary School. She designed and led the team with the Jump Start Summer Program this past summer. As a teacher in the classroom she is a master. As an educational leader, she is respected and followed with enthusiasm.”
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.