A Van Buren County educator known for incorporating the use of technology in his classroom and for his extensive involvement and leadership in extracurricular activities has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Lucas Smith, teaches science and social studies for the sixth and eighth grades at Bangor Middle School, which is part of the Bangor Public Schools. This school year, his activities outside the classroom include coaching junior varsity volleyball, middle school track, the middle school robotics team, and also serving as the middle school parent involvement representative and as a member of the school improvement team.
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 Smith will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Smith said his favorite part of being an educator is that “every day is a new opportunity to either discover myself or see a child discover something life changing. This daily possibility makes waking up and going to school exciting and motivating.”
He said that his focus is making school enjoyable for his students. “I want them to love to come to school and love the experience. The more they love school, the more they’re going to get out of it.”
He said his decision to pursue a career in education was sparked by an experience he had as an elementary student, when as a fifth-grader he was teamed up as a “school buddy” with a first-grade student. “Ever since fifth grade, I’ve enjoyed helping others,” he said.
Smith said his students motivate him to do his best every day and to tackle a long list of duties and responsibilities outside the classroom. “Plus I attend as many extra-curricular activities as possible,” he said. “I do all these things because it takes the entire community to help the students achieve and by being as involved as possible in every facet of their education, you build relationships that produce positive results for everyone!”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Smith described him as “a vital asset” to the Bangor Public Schools.
“For the past three years, Mr. Smith has been diligently incorporating technology into his classroom for his students. By writing grants, using social media fundraising and his own money, this year he was able to provide his classroom a set of Chromebooks for his students. His three-year effort started with a handful of tablets, then a transition to Google Classroom and this year with the Chromebooks, a full iteration of Google Classroom,” the nomination said, noting his extensive list of activities outside the classroom.
“Mr. Smith is also a teaching mentor to student teachers and serves on the teacher interviewing committees and teacher negotiations.”
Smith earned two degrees from Western Michigan University: a bachelor of arts degree and a master’s degree in educational leadership. He has been an educator for 14 years, the last five with the Bangor 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.