An Allegan County educator known for her dedication to helping students succeed academically and outside the classroom and challenging them to do their best has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Jessica Couch, teaches agriscience and serves as the FFA adviser at Hopkins High School, which is part of the Hopkins Public School district.
The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education award program 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 Couch 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 Couch at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
She said helping students develop is her favorite part of being an educator. “I love watching students grow from the first day I have them in class to the individuals and leaders they become by the time they graduate from my program. Watching them achieve their goals is my biggest reward!”
Couch said she was attracted to a career in education because of her “love for agriculture, kids, and the National FFA Organization. I wanted to be able to give back to students and give them the same opportunities that I had within the FFA.”
Couch said her students motivate her to do her best each day. “An agriscience teacher is not a typical teacher. I have the opportunity to work side-by-side with students outside the classroom every day, doing community service projects, working on agriscience projects, and building their career and leadership skills,” she said. “I cherish my time getting to know students one-on-one, pushing them to reach their goals, and celebrating their successes!”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Couch described her as “not only a teacher to her students, she is a role model. She has a way of inspiring each and every student she encounters. She always goes above and beyond her duties as a teacher. She doesn’t just teach. She touches each of her students’ lives.
“She pushes them to do the best that they can and to be the best they can be. While her students may feel like giving up on themselves at times, she never gives up on them,” the nomination said, adding that as an FFA adviser, Couch “takes the extra time to help students gain leadership skills in many ways to go on in life and also develop knowledge in agriculture. She spends many late hours after school helping students prepare for contests, travels away from her family for days at a time for conventions and contests. She works hard to make sure her students are succeeding and doing their best. She doesn’t consider her students as students, she treats them as if they were her own kids.”
Couch earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in agriscience education from Michigan State University. She has been an educator for 16 years, all in her current position at the Hopkins High School.
The National FFA Organization is a national youth organization of 610,240 student members as part of 7,665 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
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.