An Oakland County educator known for using field trips and other activities to help prepare special education students for life outside school has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Eric Williams, is a special education teacher at Muir Middle School in Milford. Muir Middle School is part of the Huron Valley 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 Williams 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 Williams at the Breslin Center and presented him with the award.
Williams said he planned to pursue a career in communications until he started working as a substitute teacher. “I absolutely loved being in the classroom. I feel like I have been able to make a difference in the lives of all my students,” he said.
“My students motivate me to make an extra effort every day. I do a lot of different things outside of teaching. I make sure they have lunch, clean clothes, and much more. I have even been able to get a few students jobs once they were in high school,” Williams said, adding that his favorite part of being an educator is “seeing the growth in my students from sixth grade through eighth grade. My students and I have fun in the classroom. Each day that I come to work is a new experience. I love my students and my job. ”
Williams has been an educator for 15 years and has taught at Muir Middle School for the past 10 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in cognitive impairment at Eastern Michigan University. He also has studied history and obtained his teaching certificate through Madonna University.
The Excellence in Education award nomination described Williams as a teacher who “has changed the lives of his current and former students. Besides educating and teaching students in the classroom Eric takes his students on many community outings to malls, restaurants, movies, and museums to ready them for the real world. Eric has Thanksgiving in his classroom every year at Muir Middle School for all the special education students and their families. Eric and the other staff members cook the turkeys and the students help out with the side dishes and more than 100 people attend.”
The nomination also noted that Williams has “been active, for many years, in Special Olympics and has a fundraiser, called the Hawkeye Hike, to raise money for special education needs.”
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.