An Eaton County educator known for providing individualized attention for her students and coordinating additional support from other teachers to help students succeed has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kristen Toadvine, is a special education/English teacher at Charlotte High School, which is part of the Charlotte Public Schools. Toadvine also serves as the head of the special education department at her school.
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 Toadvine will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Toadvine said that her favorite part of being an educator is “watching a student overcome an obstacle or barrier to achieve a goal. Seeing that pride on their faces makes my role in their education so worthwhile.”
“The opportunity to lead learners in acquiring knowledge attracted me to teaching. My mother is a retired educator and inspired me to enter this career field. She gave individuals opportunities to explore and grow and that was something that I wanted to be a part of,” she said.
She said the opportunity to learn from her students and improve as an educator motivates her to do her best each day. “I love to learn. My students provide that opportunity to me each day. They show me their best and worst and I get to help them work through those moments. Finding ways to bring about student success is why I wake up each day and do what I love.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Toadvine said that “her expert knowledge of how kids learn and her ability to develop relationships with her students is unmatched.”
“By developing lasting relationships with her students, she is able to design a curriculum that meets state standards and tailors each lesson to the career path of each individual student,” it said, noting this year she has a class of 25 students “who do not excel in the mainstream classroom or on standardized tests.”
“Mrs. Toadvine thinks outside of the box to make sure that all career paths are represented in the classroom. She takes a genuine interest in the lives of each student and uses that information to help them in the classroom,” the nomination said.
“For example, most of the students in this class do not enjoy reading. Mrs. Toadvine, knowing that one particular student is interested in military service, spoke with him and learned that he wanted to read ‘American Sniper.’ She went out that weekend and bought the book for him. Several other students are active on family farms. She is working with local farm supply stores to provide supplies to students who meet this year’s reading requirements.
“One particular student she worked with just graduated. When he entered high school, it was uncertain if he would be on track to get a diploma. After a semester in Mrs. Toadvine’s freshman English class, she knew he had the ability. She worked with this student and his teachers for four years and used accommodations to help him find success. He not only earned his diploma, he is also applied to and was accepted to Michigan Career and Technical Institute.
“Mrs. Toadvine is also a teacher leader. She serves as the department head of the special education department, handles all accommodations for standardized testing, mentors new teachers, and is a member of the leadership team. Through these roles, she works with all teachers in the school to help them excel as well. Mrs. Toadvine has great credibility with other teachers because of her reputation of putting kids first. Always!”
Toadvine earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and social studies from Siena Heights University and went on to earn a master of arts degree in special education with a focus on learning disabilities from Eastern Michigan University. She has been an educator for 15 years, the past 10 with the Charlotte Public 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.