A Hillsdale County educator known for her tireless efforts to help students prepare for college or vocational technical programs and for creating opportunities – such as starting a school coffee shop – for them to get business and professional experience has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Melinda Eggleston, teaches business and computer science at Hillsdale High School, which is part of the Hillsdale Community Schools. The 27-year educator also serves as the adviser for the school newspaper and yearbook and also is responsible for the school website and its social media.
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 Eggleston 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 Eggleston with the award at the Breslin Center.
Eggleston said her parents were teachers and she chose a career in education because “I love school. I have always loved school. I actually finished college six months early because I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
“I love what I do. I love seeing the results. It is a pleasure teaching the students at Hillsdale High School,” she said, adding her favorite part of being a teacher is “seeing my students succeed!”
“I love it when they win a contest, or mentor another student, or win a scholarship. I really like helping them succeed!”
Two people nominated Eggleston for the Excellence in Education award with one describing her as “a magnificent teacher who educates the ‘whole’ student and prepares them for the future. She is not afraid to jump in and get to work and is a strong advocate for students.”
The nomination noted that Eggleston works with the Business Professionals of America Club (BPA), which has more than 60 members at Hillsdale High School, making it the largest student organization at the school.
“She has been working with BPA students since 2008 and also started a BPA chapter at the middle school. As a BPA adviser, Mindy prepares her students to work efficiently in a wide variety of businesses. As an adviser, she constantly promotes leadership and models professionalism and teamwork. For the past nine years, Mindy has given up time with her family to participate with students in activities and competitions at the local, regional, state, and national levels. Her students have won numerous awards and in 2016, the group was recognized as the ‘Chapter of the Year’ in the state of Michigan,” the nomination said.
“Mindy also believes in post-secondary education. She is an advocate for career and technical education, internships, apprenticeships, community college, and college. She knows that 65 percent of all jobs in the year 2020 will require some form of post-secondary training. Due to her passion for helping students, she started the Future Corps team (a peer-leadership based group) at Hillsdale High School. For the past three years she has worked with a team of eight to 10 students to help the senior class apply to college.
“Mindy personally proofreads college entrance essays, scholarship essays, and even helps students complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. In addition to BPA and Future Corps, Mindy is a co-advisor for the Freshmen Mentor Program and serves on the School Improvement Team.”
The second nomination noted that Eggleston worked with another teacher and students to open a coffee shop in the school. The shop is operated by students and offers them the opportunity to gain business experience.
Eggleston earned a bachelor of science degree from Central Michigan University and a master degree in business administration from Spring Arbor University. She has been an educator for 27 years, the last 16 at Hillsdale High School.
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.