Macomb County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

Joseph Rybicki poses for a photo with his wife, Amy, after accepting his Excellence in Education award from Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.

Joseph Rybicki poses for a photo with his wife, Amy, after accepting his Excellence in Education award from Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.

A Macomb County educator known for using new approaches to help students understand basic and advanced math concepts and for being a mentor to students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Joseph Rybicki, teaches fourth grade at Eisenhower Elementary School in Fraser. The school is part of the Fraser Public Schools district.

The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards in 2014 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 will be 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 Rybicki will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and then on Thursday 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 Rybicki at the Breslin Center and presented him with the award.

Rybicki said his favorite part of being a teacher is “when students are learning something new and that light bulb goes off for them. The students develop self-confidence and an understanding of new concepts in those moments, which is very rewarding for me to be a part of as a teacher.”

Rybicki has been an educator for 15 years, all with the Fraser Public Schools, which he attended growing up in Macomb County.  Rybicki said he was attracted to a career in education because “I wanted to make a difference and make learning fun.”

He said his students and his colleagues inspire him to do his best each day in the classroom. “I want to provide the best education for my students that I can.  I want them all to be successful. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues.  They have shown me the dedication and determination that it takes to be a teacher.”

A parent of two former students nominated Rybicki for the Excellence in Education award.  The nomination described him as: “What every parent wants for their child.  Dedicated, fun, aware.  He is what every teacher should be.”

Joseph Rybicki talks with Michigan State University basketball coach, Tom Izzo, after accepting his Excellence in Education award.

Joseph Rybicki talks with Michigan State University basketball coach, Tom Izzo, after accepting his Excellence in Education award.

“When you think of math, fun is not a word that comes to my mind.  But in the minds of my two children, that is exactly what Mr. Rybicki has taught them:  Math is fun.  He makes it that way. He is able to grab the attention of each child,” the nomination said.

“He understands the challenges that some children face and creates a different approach to get them to understand it.  He knows that every child learns differently.  If one way isn’t working with a student, he has 10 more ways to try.  Every student who leaves his classroom at the end of a school year will be that much better because of this teacher.”

Rybicki earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Wayne State University and a master’s degree in education from Saginaw Valley State University.

Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at http://bit.ly/ExcellenceInEducation or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.

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.
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