A Gratiot County educator known for instilling a love of learning in her students and working with them and their families on several community service projects, including “Books for Babies,” which promotes early literacy, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Sue Meier, teaches kindergarten at the South Elementary School in Ithaca. The school is part of the Ithaca 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 Meier 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 Meier with the award at the Breslin Center.
Meier, an educator for nearly three decades, said she was attracted to a career in education because “I have always enjoyed working with children and inspiring them to achieve great things.”
She added that her favorite part of being an educator is “spending each year with a group of unique children, each contributing in their special way on our learning journey.
“Seeing that sparkle in my students’ eyes and their excitement to learn motivates me to do my best every day.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Meier described her as “a dynamic teacher with an unyielding commitment to educate the children in her class.”
“She is a passionate advocate for young children. She has inspired students, parents, co-workers and educators throughout Michigan for the past 29 years and continues to elevate the teaching profession both in and out of the classroom. Sue has mentored countless student teachers, new teachers and veteran educators both at South Elementary School in Ithaca, and at conferences where she has shared her expertise as a presenter throughout the state,” the nomination said.
“Her kindergarten students throughout the years have learned about service in the community because they have been fortunate enough to have her for a teacher. Sue is the founder of the Books for Babies project which began in 1999 and which promotes early literacy. She and her students have raised $50,000 over the years to purchase books for newborns at our local hospital.
“In addition, she and her students have initiated the following service projects in our community: ‘Be Kind! Pass It On’ Pictures (students make framed pictures to place in area businesses); ‘Everyone Deserves a Birthday Cake’ (students assemble ‘birthday supply bags’ for the Ithaca Community Food Pantry for families who cannot afford to celebrate their child’s birthday; ‘Thinking of You Bags’ (gift bags for senior citizens); ‘Socks of Love’ (hygiene items for the Food Pantry); ‘Sue Ellen Bears’ (students collect small stuffed bears to donate to the Ithaca Fire Dept. for children at accident sites); ‘Peace in the Garden’ Pictures (students make framed, quilted garden pictures to hang in local business offices),” the nomination said.
“She also is involved with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and the Art for Peace Project to name just a few of her other service endeavors for her students and their families.”
Meier earned a bachelor of arts degree from Northern Michigan University and an Early Childhood Education endorsement from Central Michigan University. She has been an educator for 29 years, the last 24 with the Ithaca 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.