An Eaton County educator known for encouraging his students to excel in the classroom and make a difference in the lives of others through community projects and personal interactions has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Jeff Sewick, teaches third grade at Wacousta Elementary School, in Eagle. The school is part of the Grand Ledge Public 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 Sewick 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 Sewick with the award at the Breslin Center.
Sewick said that his grandmother, Virginia Sewick, was a secretary at an elementary school and his mother, Gail Sewick, was a librarian at an elementary school. He added that the wonderful memories he has of being in and around elementary schools as a youngster and his love of working with children led him to a career in education.
“I have always had the most fun interacting with and being with kids. I worked at Michigan State University’s Spartan Child Development Center in college and I knew that I could make a career out of working with kids,” he said. “I love coming to school every day and greeting the kids with a smile and knowing I can make their day a good day. The kids are awesome and the best part of being an educator.”
Sewick said a simple goal motivates him to give his best each day: “I want to make students love school. I strive to make each day awesome for my class. The love and joy that the students bring to me each day motivate me to do my best and create opportunities to make each day special. I want to engage my students, so I bring my best every day. Our classroom motto this year is ‘Be More Awesome!’ That pushes me and my students every day.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Sewick described him as teaching his students more than reading, writing, math and science.
“Every day, Mr. Sewick makes his students feel smart, special, and loved. He teaches each of them how to be a better person and make the world a better place. He teaches them to help the less fortunate and be kind to others.
“This year, his class made blankets for the homeless. His students also wrote letters to homeless veterans on Veterans Day and they participated in a sock drive to get socks for those in need. These are just a few examples of his kindness and love and that he’s teaching to his students. Every day he encourages 23 boys and girls to go out and ‘Be the reason someone smiles today.’”
Sewick earned two bachelor of arts degrees from Michigan State University, one in elementary education and another in finance. He also has earned a master’s degree in literacy instruction from Michigan State. He has been an educator for 20 years, all with the Grand Ledge Public Schools.
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.