A Clinton County educator known for using the outdoors to help her students learn about science, involving students in community projects, and being a leader in her school and district has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kari Roy, teaches sixth grade science at Herbison Woods Elementary School in DeWitt. The school is part of the DeWitt Public 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 Roy 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 Roy at the Breslin Center and presented her with the award.
Roy said her favorite part of being an educator is “seeing a student’s face light up when they bring in an item or share an experience that reminds them of science.”
She said was attracted to a career in education by “how kids look at the world and their great sense of humor.”
She said seeing students grasp a new idea or concept motivates her to do her best each day. “It’s a thrill when you see the light bulb turn on! Their facial expressions make every day worth showing up for!”
Roy was nominated for the Excellence in Education award by some of her colleagues at Herbison Woods Elementary. The nomination described her as “a very special sixth grade teacher whose dedication to her students, colleagues, and the education profession is contagious!”
“Excellence is Kari’s practice every day. She integrates her instruction with her community she loves in many ways: walking field trips for hands-on learning at nearby community destinations including the public library, water filtration plant, and YMCA; inviting community guest speakers such as the county undersheriff, bomb squad specialists, and representatives from local financial institutions,” it said.
The nomination noted that Roy’s students are raising Chinook salmon and plan to release the young fish into the nearby Looking Glass River, which feeds into Lake Michigan. The students are raising the fish as part of the Salmon in the Classroom program sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The program teaches students about Michigan’s freshwater resources through interactive, hands-on learning. Students learn about life cycles, ecology, environmental conditions, invasive species, as well as gain knowledge about the Chinook salmon.
The nomination added that “Kari is a leader in our building and district. She routinely assumes leadership roles in creating curriculum assessments, aligning state standards, and maintaining and encouraging open dialogue among our team to ensure that great instructional practices and lessons are fostered and shared.
“Mainly, Kari inspires students and others to be their best. Her positive energy, million-dollar smile, and ‘can-do’ attitude are impossible to resist. Her contributions are numerous. For example, she is in her classroom every lunch hour helping students. That’s part of her commitment to providing individualized instruction to those who are struggling or have been absent.
“She spends countless hours of her own time during the school year and summers to prepare a vegetable garden at school and organized students to help landscape the entrance areas around our building. She also has involved students with grooming the district nature trail and walking paths to our ‘outdoor classroom,’ and spearheaded the fund raising to establish a wild bird area filled with multiple bird feeders,” the nomination said she also has organized “pop tab” collections to support the local Ronald McDonald House.
“Our students are inspired by her passion for learning, for the outdoors, and for others in our local and larger Lansing community.”
Roy has been an educator for 23 years, all but one with the DeWitt Public Schools district. She earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Central Michigan University and then a master’s degree in natural science from Michigan 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.