An Allegan County educator known for her individualized approach to each student and for helping them develop inside and outside the classroom has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Danielle LaJoye, teaches kindergarten at the Dorr Elementary School in Wayland. The school is part of the Wayland Union 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 LaJoye 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 LaJoye with the award at the Breslin Center.
LaJoye said she was attracted to a career in education because “I’ve always loved working with kids and had many wonderful influences throughout my life who helped build the foundation of my passion for being an educator.”
She said her favorite part of being a teacher is “building connections as a positive role model with kids! I love seeing the growth that happens over the school year with the students, not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well.”
LaJoye said she’s motivated to do her best every day because she knows that she’s helping to shape the future for each child in her class. “It’s exciting for me to know that I can be a lifelong influence in a child’s life that leads them toward happiness and success.”
A parent nominated LaJoye for the Excellence in Education award nomination, describing her as an educator “who gives her students the best she has to offer as a teacher and friend.”
“She is a warm person who cares about every student. She uses positive reinforcement and talks about making the right choices with her class. She teaches the importance of nature, composting, and growing your own food and also promotes healthy eating habits and outdoor playing.”
LaJoye earned a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education with an early childhood endorsement from Western Michigan University. She currently is working on a masters degree in the practice of teaching. She has been an educator for five years, all with the Wayland Union 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.