An Ingham County educator known for helping struggling students discover the importance of education and for being one of the founders of an after-school program that provides tutoring and opportunities for students to be with positive role models has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Alyona Troitsky, teaches English language arts at Holt Junior High School, which is part of the Holt Public Schools 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 Troitsky 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 Troitsky with the award at the Breslin Center.
“I’ve wanted to teach since I was 4 years old,” Troitsky said. “I spent 13 years in alternative education and it was a fantastic, challenging, precious experience that I would not trade for anything! Teaching at the junior high has been a wild ride and I love my eighth graders.”
She said her favorite part of being an educator is the opportunity “to make a lasting difference in the lives of young people. I plant seeds and watching them grow is a huge rush!”
Troitsky said her belief that “a stronger community of young people makes the world a better place” led her to work with others to create Building Twentyone, an after-school teen center that provides tutoring, leadership building, and an opportunity for students to be around positive role models.
“I helped start Building Twentyone to create a place where students can build a safe community and flourish. Building Twentyone is a place of learning, support, kindness and love. It is my ‘passion’ project,” she said.
A colleague at Holt Junior High School nominated Troitsky for the Excellence in Education award, saying “she has influenced the lives of many students and families.”
“Alyona began her teaching career working with adolescents and adults, teaching English language arts in an alternative education program. The fact that she is a certified English teacher is quite impressive, given that her native language is Russian and she learned English as an adolescent. Both teachers and administrators recognize that Alyona has a special gift to connect with students that were experiencing academic and personal issues in school and in their lives,” the nomination said.
“She always makes connections and is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that students received whatever they needed to be successful, regardless of the amount of effort it took on her part.”
“Alyona has an unbridled passion for working with all students, but what makes her stand out is her ability to engage and motivate students who struggle to see the value of education and those who are missing important positive relationships in their life. Alyona stays after school to help tutor students, many not even from her own class, even creating a literacy lab class for struggling readers and writers,” the nomination said.
It added that along with being one of the founders of Building Twentyone, Troitsky also has served as the liaison between the junior high school and the teen center for the five years that it has been in operation.
“She provides daily tutoring, structured activities, and is willing to lend an ear when students are in need. Alyona knows all of the students and their parents extremely well and provides students rides home, meets with them on the weekends, and is always there to lend a helpful hand or listening ear regardless of the time involved.”
Troitsky earned a bachelor of arts degree from Cameron University and a teaching certificate from Spring Arbor University. She also earned a master of arts degree from Central Michigan University. She has been an educator for 18 years, all with the Holt Public 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.