An Ingham County educator known for helping students learn and grow academically and personally through leadership challenges and community service projects has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kristin Higgins, teaches business/technology education, coaches water polo, and serves as the yearbook adviser at Mason High School, which is part of the Mason 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 Higgins 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 Higgins at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Higgins said her own positive experience as a student led her to a career in education. “This career provides me with the opportunity to give back to students what I was given growing up. I had a safe and nurturing learning environment that helped me develop my passion for service.’’
“Students are my motivation. If I make a difference in a child’s life, I know this world can be a better place, even if it is just one student. We can change the world one child at a time,” Higgins said, adding that working with students is her favorite part of being an educator. “I enjoy interacting with students, watching them develop as individuals and hopefully playing a role in their development into contributing members of society.”
Higgins has been an educator for 12 years, all at the Mason High School. She earned a bachelor of science degree in business and chemistry education and a master of arts degree in educational leadership at Northern Michigan University.
The Excellence in Education award nomination, submitted by a colleague, described Higgins as a teacher who “cares about her students, but even more goes far above and beyond the normal duties of a teacher to improve not only the lives of her students but the community.”
“She has piloted and made successful courses focused on improving students. The main example of this is Leadership A and Leadership B. In Leadership A, she gives the students hands on experiences every day, forcing them out of their comfort zone and truly learning about themselves and how they interact with one another. Leadership B pushes them even farther, requiring that they take a leadership role on in organizing and running a community event. Her classes have been responsible for starting a school-wide academic assembly that recognizes academic accomplishments. They also have brought Relay for Life to the school with a mini relay, and orchestrated a school-wide community service day where all students volunteered to make the school and local community a better place.”
The nomination went on to note that Higgins “spends many, many extra hours putting together an award-winning yearbook, year after year. She assists anyone and everyone that she can. She is such a staple and leader that without her many of the events at Mason High School would not occur or would fail.”
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.