An Oakland County educator known for sharing her love of the Japanese language and culture with students across the academic spectrum has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Faye Valtadoros, teaches Japanese to seventh through 12th graders in the Clarkston Community Schools 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 Valtadoros 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 Valtadoros at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Valtadoros said her favorite part of being an educator is interacting with students. “I love the everyday conversations that I have with my students. I make time to talk to them and always try to understand where they’re coming from in life. Sometimes, they just need a friendly ear to help them get through a tough day or a rough spot in life.”
She said she was attracted to a career in education because of the teachers she had a student. “My teachers have always been a positive influence in my life. I want to do the same for my students. I want to be an inspiration to them and open their minds to the Japanese language and culture.”
She said her students motivate her to do her best each day. “When I see one of my students catching on to the Japanese language and they have that ‘Aha!’ moment, it’s so heart-warming for me. I love to see my students ‘getting it’ and grasping a new idea or concept. They inspire me each and every day to do better as a teacher.”
Valtadoros was nominated for the Excellence in Education award by a person who works in Japanese business circles in Michigan. The nomination noted that Valtadoros “is one of the few teachers of Japanese language in Michigan.”
“She uses her personal funds to ensure that her students have the proper class materials. She helps students understand the value of knowing multiple languages and recognize that will help prepare them to work in the increasingly global marketplace.
“She is valuable to the community and her role is fundamental to the automotive industry and other industries in Michigan, because we need more Americans who know the Japanese language and culture.”
Valtadoros has been an educator for 16 years, the past 10 with the Clarkston Community Schools. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in Japanese language and culture from Eastern Michigan University and a master of arts in teaching from Marygrove College. She also earned a master’s degree in library science from Wayne State University.
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.