A Lapeer County educator known for developing opportunities for her special education students to improve their social and academic skills and for finding hands on experiences to help them prepare for jobs and life has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Dawn Wedemeyer, is a special education teacher at Almont High School, which is part of Almont 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 Wedemeyer 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 recently presented Wedemeyer with the award at the Breslin Center.
“My favorite part about being an educator is seeing the growth of my students as they become more and more independent,” Wedemeyer said. “When I was in high school, I volunteered in several special education classrooms. I always knew that I wanted to teach, but to see the growth in those students and their excitement and joy over the tiniest accomplishment was exciting and helped me choose my career path.”
Wedemeyer said her students motivate her to do her best each day. “Each day something new or challenging happens with my students. I look forward to seeing my students develop and watching them achieve a small accomplishment or a major accomplishment. To me, teaching is not just a job, but part of my life.”
A colleague nominated Wedemeyer for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “the most devoted teacher I have ever had the privilege to work with. She is always willing to go the extra mile for her students. In the classroom, Dawn reaches every type of learner. She works hard to differentiate her lessons, and she always finds creative and innovative ways to present material. She uses technology to explore current and crucial skills to help students succeed. She also works to provide real-life situations so students can practice and be prepared to succeed.”
“She oversees the LINKS program, which is designed to build the social and academic skills of students with disabilities. In the program, mentor students are placed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) students. The ASD students find mentors, role models, and friends within their student partners in a classroom setting,” the nomination said.
“Dawn is introducing a new program, VISION/VIP, which engages students in real-life work experience. These programs require hands-on training for the students. Dawn guides students to become successful employees. She searches for innovative ways to help students be successful, and she tries to meet the needs of all her students by providing a productive learning experience for each student.”
The nomination also noted that Wedemeyer teaches a transitional program that “teaches students how to pay bills, buy insurance, use the post office, shop for groceries, and perform other necessary tasks. She takes students into the community so they can actually experience how to be a successful, independent adult in a safe and nurturing environment.”
Wedemeyer earned a bachelor’s degree in learning disabilities from Hope College and master’s degree in education from Marygrove College. She has been an educator for 12 years, the last eight years with the Almont 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.