An Oakland County educator known for making special videos featuring teachers and administrators to engage students and support charitable activities and other events at his school has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Nick LeTarte, is a French teacher and football coach at Novi High School, which is part of the Novi 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 LeTarte 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 LeTarte with the award at the Breslin Center.
“I had great teachers growing up. They made school a place that I enjoyed going to, so I just try to do the same for my students,” LeTarte said, adding that his favorite part of being an educator is “interacting with my students. They teach me so much.”
LeTarte said he made his first school video – with teachers and administrators lip-synching to a popular song – four years ago just for fun and decided to make more after seeing the benefits it offered.
“I’ve adopted the philosophy that if we want people to know our story we have to tell it. These videos achieve multiple goals. First, we’re just trying to have some fun. Second, we are trying to create connections with our kids, let them see us in a different light. It’s extremely hard for students to learn if they don’t know that their teachers care about them The videos provide just another layer of things we do to make our school a welcoming place,” he said.
“Third, it seems like lately teachers have sometimes been portrayed poorly in the media. I’ve always struggled with that because I look around our school and see passionate people who care about kids putting in countless hours just because they believe in our students and public education. So, again, if we want people to know our story, we must tell it. So we do, and will continue to do so.”
A colleague nominated LeTarte for the Excellence in Education award, saying he exemplified the intelligent, compassionate, and dedicated staff at Novi High School.
“We are inspired by each other and love our jobs, where we mentor, coach, lead and ultimately, shape, our future generations,” the nomination said, noting that LeTarte’s first special video was designed to publicize a charity softball game.
“After the first one, it was clear that the students couldn’t get enough. We now make videos year ‘round before major events, to boost morale before finals, and sometimes, just for fun!”
The videos boost school spirit and the sense of community and don’t just happen. “Nick spends countless hours tirelessly filming, editing, and creating these masterpieces.”
LeTarte earned a bachelor’s degree from Hope College and a master’s degree from Wayne State University. He has been an educator for 13 years, the last 12 in his current position at Novi High School.
LeTarte’s videos may be seen at: http://bit.ly/2kP2rr0.
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.