A Monroe County educator known for sharing her love of reading with students and supporting students in need with shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, and more has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Gina Russell is a reading specialist for the Airport Community Schools in Carleton. She also serves as the district’s homeless liaison.
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 $1,500 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, FOX 47 in Lansing, and WNEM-TV in Saginaw. The news segment featuring Russell will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Russell said her favorite parts of being an educator are “the ‘Got it!’ moments when students understand a new concept or idea.”
She said she chose education as a profession because “I wanted to share the joy of learning – especially reading – with students. Plus, I wanted students to know that teachers care about them!” She added that her students motivate her to give her best every day.
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Russell described her as a dedicated teacher who “goes above and beyond for all her students.”
“She started a snack program years ago for her students and that’s grown into her running mobile food pantries for families in need. She has worked with local agencies and community volunteers to hold 19 mobile food pantries feeding approximately 4,000 families in her community. She also makes sure that the students have shoes, clothes, eyeglasses, and school supplies, anything they need to be successful in the classroom,” the nomination said.
“She is a reading specialist for her building but she also donates her time to serve as the homeless liaison for the entire district. Gina is very passionate about every student in the district and caring for them while also taking care of her own family as a wife and mother.”
Russell attended Monroe County Community College and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s reading specialist degree, both from Eastern Michigan University. She has been an educator for 24 years, the past 22 with the Airport Community Schools.
Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at http://bit.ly/ExcellenceInEducation or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.
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.