An Oakland County educator known for her dedication to help students succeed, including after-hours assistance via social media, and for leading volunteer projects to help those in need locally and overseas has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Nancy Kattoula, teaches Spanish at Walled Lake Central High School, which is part of the Walled Lake Consolidated 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 Kattoula 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 Kattoula with the award at the Breslin Center.
Kattoula said she choose a career in education after she “worked with teen groups in a clinical psychology setting and realized that I missed my calling and that I wanted to work with teens full time.”
She said that every day she spends in the classroom validates that decision. “I love my kids. I am so blessed to work where I do and have the students I have. I know they appreciate what I do for them and they know how much I care,” Kattoula said. “I get so excited when they are excited about Spanish and our classes are a family. I love when they come to class and tell me how they spoke to someone in Spanish, or come back as graduates to tell me how they are using Spanish in their careers. My heart is full when I see them there for each other, inside and outside of class.”
She said some of her favorite parts of being a teacher are “seeing my students’ faces light up when they understand a concept, having them contact me years after they have been in my class to tell me that they still use Spanish and what they learned in our classes, to seeing how they get so excited helping others in our volunteer group.”
A student nominated Kattoula for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “continuously learning and is always looking for the best ways to teach her subject to her students. If a student is having a difficult time learning material in her class, she offers them different study techniques they can use to help them excel in her class and other classes.
“She makes learning available to all students, inside and out of the classroom, through creative teaching and activities that help all students learn and succeed, and with always being accessible before and after school, through Facebook evening study sessions, Twitter, email, Google voice, etc. If her students have a question at 11 o’clock on a Saturday night, she is there to answer it.
“She is always working, evenings and weekends, and she always puts her job and students first. She tells her students that she is their teacher forever, and her graduated students still contact her for help and support,” the nomination said.
The nomination noted that she teaches her students about the importance of helping those in need through a student volunteer group that she runs. The group recently provided more than 3,000 pairs of socks for homeless people, made more than 400 blankets for kids in hospitals, and sent nearly 1,300 bottles of medicine to help the sick in the African nation of Malawi.
“Mrs. Kattoula fills all the roles of an exceptional teacher. Her door is always open when students need help or need to talk. Most importantly, she leads by example. She makes her students want to do their best and become leaders inside and outside of our community. She lights our world with her joy, passion, and dedication. She is a selfless leader and teacher who inspires the hearts of her students and is making an impact on this world that is much bigger than herself.”
Kattoula earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with minors in Spanish and Sociology from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she also earned a post-secondary certification in Spanish and Social Studies. She has earned two Master of Arts degrees from the University of Michigan: one in Education and another in Liberal Studies. She has been an educator for 18 years, all with the Walled Lake Consolidated 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.