Eaton County Teacher Wins 2016 Educator of the Year Award and $10,000 Prize From Michigan Lottery’s Excellence in Education Program

Daniel Carr smiles after being presented with the Michigan Lottery's 2016 Excellence in Education Educator of the Year Award from Michigan State University Basketball coach, Tom Izzo.

Daniel Carr smiles after being presented with the Michigan Lottery’s 2016 Excellence in Education Educator of the Year Award from Michigan State University Basketball coach, Tom Izzo.

An Eaton County teacher has won the 2016 Educator of the Year award and a $10,000 prize from the Michigan Lottery’s Excellence in Education program, the Lottery announced today.

The award winner, Daniel Carr, teaches Spanish and sports marketing at Waverly High School in Lansing.  The school is part of the Waverly Community Schools district.

Carr is known for inspiring a love of Spanish and other languages in his students and for providing them with “real world” experiences through volunteer work and lessons from his international mission travels.

Tom Izzo, the Michigan State University men’s basketball coach, presented the Educator of the Year trophy and a $10,000 check to Carr today during an honors assembly at Waverly High School. More than 600 students and the schools’ faculty and staff cheered as Izzo announced that Carr had won the award.

“I didn’t see this coming,” a surprised Carr said.  “To me, this award is a reflection of a lot of people who have contributed to educating people here at my school and my community and the people around the world who I’ve had the privilege to work with.

“I’m just privileged to have this award, but I feel it’s the product of many people who have invested themselves in a lot of peoples’ lives. To me, it’s something that should be shared among all those people, not just myself.”

Carr said he planned to use his $10,000 prize to “help further education in the parts of the world where people aren’t as privileged and don’t have as much opportunity and as many resources as we do.  To be able to provide something for them is very near and dear to my heart.”

He added that he was pleased that the Waverly High School students were part of the award announcement. “This award will be shared with them. It’s not about me, it’s not about the teacher’s, it’s about us.”

Principal Chris Huff described Carr as “the most dedicated person and teacher you’ll ever see.  He’s an ambassador for Waverly High School here in the community and the countries he goes to for his mission trips.

“Dan Carr has a passion for kids and a passion for education.  When you go into his classroom, you see all the students engaged in the lesson and kids helping other kids.  He’s a very special teacher and person.”

Daniel Carr gives Michigan State University Basketball coach, Tom Izzo, a tour of his classroom after being named the Michigan Lottery's 2016 Excellence in Education Educator of the Year.

Daniel Carr gives Michigan State University Basketball coach, Tom Izzo, a tour of his classroom after being named the Michigan Lottery’s 2016 Excellence in Education Educator of the Year.

The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards in 2014 to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state. More than 500 educators from across the state were nominated during the school year and 34, including Carr, were selected to win a weekly award.

Weekly award winners received a plaque, a $500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or school district as well as the opportunity to be selected to receive the Educator of the Year award and its $10,000 cash prize.

Each winner also was 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.

For the Excellence in Education program, the Lottery teamed up Izzo, who met the weekly award winners at the Breslin Center and presented the awards.

Carr has been an educator for 19 years, all at Waverly High School.  He attended Michigan State University where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and a master of arts degree in education.

The mother of a Waverly High School student nominated Carr for the Excellence in Education award and described him as “just the kind of teacher who inspires kids.”

The nomination noted that Waverly High School added an upper level Spanish class because so many students wanted to keep studying the language with Carr.  He also is the adviser for the school’s Spanish Honor Society.

“He also spearheads World Language Night, where all the different language classes perform skits. He even has been known to stay the night at the school to make sure this event goes off as planned,” the nomination said.

Carr described World Language Night as a “huge variety show that showcases the languages that are taught and spoken at our school, as well as the diversity of our student body and the impact our students make on the global community.  Each year, the students and I try to dream up bigger and crazier things to do for the show.  Last year, for example, I brought in a contestant from ‘America’s Got Talent’ to sing with one of our students in Spanish. I invited a highly renowned Salsa instructor to teach one of my classes a dance. I also had a professional movie stunt scene coordinator choreograph and train about 20 students for an epic fight scene we did in our ‘Peter Pan’ play.  All of these people volunteered their time and expertise and the students put in hundreds of hours of their own time.”

The nomination added that Carr also inspires and encourages students to do volunteer work, such as traveling to Detroit to help sort medical supplies going to Third World countries through the nonprofit World Medical Relief.

“Mr. Carr will go out of his way for any of his students! He travels every year to a new country and brings information about the country and its culture back to his students and that inspires them even more!”

Carr, who has visited every Spanish-speaking country, is known for his mission trips around the globe, many of them to help build hospitals and orphanages or to serve as a translator for visiting doctors.

On more than 25 trips to countries ranging from Kenya and Rwanda to Romania and Argentina, he’s used basketball – a game he didn’t even play in high school – to empower young people.  “Life lessons, such as trust, perseverance, and teamwork can be taught through sports, which shatter all barriers,” he has said.

The nomination period for the 2016-17 Excellence in Education awards program will begin in August.

Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award through the Michigan Lottery website,, 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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