A St. Clair County educator known for seeking out ways to inspire students to excel in the classroom and to foster their personal growth has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Mark Eberhard, teaches freshman biology and advanced placement biology at St. Clair High School, which is part of the East China School District.
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 segment featuring Eberhard will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Eberhard said his favorite parts of being an educator are “creating experiences in and out of the classroom that help create opportunities for growth for students. Watching students strive and succeed. Seeing the light go on for them when they grasp a new concept or idea. Seeing their passion ignite.”
He said he chose to pursue a career in education because of “my own positive experiences with several teachers at my high school. That experience created a desire in me to ‘pay it forward’ and create similar learning opportunities and experiences for young people and to hopefully be a positive influence in their paths.”
Eberhard said he’s motivated to do his best every day to set an example and high standard for his students. “If I am going to expect my students and colleagues to give their best effort, I must give my best effort. Students know if you are working in their best interest and they will appreciate and reward your investment in them with their gratitude, friendship and efforts. They will be willing to go the ‘extra mile’ to meet your expectations.”
A former principal at St. Clair High School nominated Eberhard for the Excellence in Education award, describing him as an outstanding teacher for more than three decades.
“Not only does he teach all classes from ninth grade biology to advanced placement biology, he excels in two other areas that have provided countless students the opportunity to blossom. Those areas are student leadership and theatre. For the past 30 years, he has led a student government numbering more than 100 students each year to shape programs that impact every student at the school,” he wrote, adding “Mark has served as the lead teacher at a statewide leadership summer camp, sharing his knowledge with more than 600 students from across Michigan each summer.
“He also revived the theatre program at St. Clair High School in 1997 and that organization has grown each year. The interest in theatre and parent and community support resulted in the construction of a $7.2 million Fine Arts Building in 2002, a facility that also is beneficial to other fine arts programs.”
The nomination noted that Eberhard “continually reinvents himself and is tireless in providing, not only students in his classes an exemplary educational experience, but all students who choose to apply themselves each day in school and become involved.”
Eberhard earned a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from Michigan State University and a master of arts degree in theatre directing from the Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts. He has been an educator for 32 years, all with the East China School District.
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.