A Jackson County educator known for using hands on experiments to get students excited about biology and for her dedication to the advancement of science education has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Stephanie Hoppe, is a biology teacher at Grass Lake High School, which is part of the Grass Lake Community Schools.
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 is 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 Hoppe 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, who presented Hoppe with the award at the Breslin Center.
“Inspiring young people to study biology and instilling in them a love and appreciation for biology are the favorite parts of my job,” she said, adding that she chose a career in education because “I want to share my passion about biology with young people. I want to make a difference in the world by encouraging students to study for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.”
Hoppe said her students motivate her to do her best each day. “The energy and enthusiasm of my students keeps me going. Watching them make connections with their studies and solving scientific problems is such a euphoric feeling.”
A colleague nominated Hoppe for the Excellence in Education award, which said: “Stephanie combines a deep knowledge of biology with tireless dedication to student understanding to create a dynamic and effective classroom environment. She understands that science exists both as a body of knowledge and a way of thinking and aims her teaching methods at engendering content mastery as well as critical thinking tendencies.
“Within her classroom, one might see students creating whole ecosystems in copy paper boxes or isolating the raw data of their existence (in the form of DNA). Whatever lesson Stephanie has planned, it will surely engage, excite and inform the entire class.”
The nomination noted that Hoppe “has been an active participant in state and national societies dedicated to science education. She understands and appreciates that teaching methods as well as scientific content are ever-evolving and diligently pursues self-improvement by interacting with other excellent educators throughout the nation. As one example of this, Stephanie was selected to work in the lab of Paul Williams at the University of Wisconsin-Madison two summers ago. Paul and his colleagues have developed a strain of fast growing mustard variants with which students may explore photosynthesis, plant morphology, sustainable ecosystems and much more.”
Hoppe earned a bachelor of science degree and a master of science degree, both in biological science, at Michigan State University. She has been an educator for 16 years, all with the Grass Lake Community Schools.
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.