Oakland County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

Adam Burns poses for a photo with his wife, Grace, and children, (from left to right) Isla, John, and Anna, after accepting his Excellence in Education award from Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.

Adam Burns poses for a photo with his wife, Grace, and children, (from left to right) Isla, John, and Anna, after accepting his Excellence in Education award from Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.

An Oakland County educator known for sharing his enthusiasm for film with his students and inspiring them to do their best both inside and outside the classroom has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Adam Burns, teaches broadcasting, advanced placement English, and a year-long innovation course at Athens High School, which is part of the Troy School District.

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 Burns 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 Burns with the award at the Breslin Center.

Burns said he’s emulating “the many great teachers I had who inspired me when I was a student,” adding that his favorite part of being a teacher is “the chance to work with creative, motivated, inspiring students every day.”

Several former students nominated Burns for the Excellence in Education award.  One described him as “an enthusiastic, respectful, and an encouraging and accepting teacher” and another as “a mentor and a leader.”  Yet another said: “What makes him an amazing teacher is the way he works with his students to help them achieve success in his classes.”

“His innovation learning course is a prime example.  In this course, students come up with a project that is not only fun for themselves, but is beneficial to the community as well.  The students spend the whole school year working on their project, both in and outside of class,” the nomination said, adding that if a student is struggling with their project then Burns will work with them to get it back on course.

“Mr. Burns excels at everything he does, including teaching advanced placement English, sports literature, writing for broadcasting, advanced writing for broadcasting and innovation learning.  Along with teaching all of those classes, he also coaches soccer, powder puff football, and is a student council liaison,” a nomination noted, adding that he has been named the Troy School District High School Teacher of the Year.

Adam Burns talks with Michigan State University basketball coach, Tom Izzo, after accepting his Excellence in Education award.

Adam Burns talks with Michigan State University basketball coach, Tom Izzo, after accepting his Excellence in Education award.

In a TV production class, students were excited about their first projects and couldn’t wait to go out with their cameras after seeing some examples of Burns’ work, another nomination said.  “He respects and trusts his students and because of the respect he shows students, they reciprocate that trust. No matter what interests they have, he will be rooting them on and encouraging them to reach their goals.”

“Mr. Burns is always going the extra mile to make sure every student is included.  Mr. Burns makes short films and includes every single class member, making sure students not only will pass the class, but enjoy their time in the class and make friends. Every single person who has him as their teacher is guaranteed to leave his class happier and more outgoing because of his acceptance and encouragement,” the former student wrote.

“I can speak for countless other students and say our lives were changed for the better thanks to Mr. Burns.  His enthusiasm, respect, acceptance, and encouragement make Athens High School a happier place.”

Burns earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan and has been an educator for 10 years, all with the Troy School District.

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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