A Saginaw County educator known for finding new ways to excite and challenge his students and for being a leader in incorporating technology into his classroom and school has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Trevor Szafranski, is a fifth grade and middle school technology coach at R.B. Havens Elementary School in Saginaw. The school is part of the Swan Valley 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 Szafranski will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Szafranski said his favorite part of being an educator is helping students. “I love it when I work with a troubled student or one who is at a crossroads in their life and I see my messages get through and change them,” he said.
He said he chose to pursue a career in education because of “I believe the most important thing you can do in life is make a significant positive impact on the life of another. Education allows me the opportunity to do just that.”
Szafranski said his personal commitment to excel motivates him to do his best every day. “I only have one life. Why spend it pursuing ‘average’ or just ‘good?’ I believe in using every opportunity to be the very best you and setting that example for youth around me.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Szafranski described him as “a creative and passionate individual who is constantly looking for innovative methods to excite and challenge his students. He is also at the forefront of education in piloting new teaching methodologies.
“One example is his classroom which he has transformed into a stimulating sanctuary where students with various needs can excel. Trevor recognized years ago that the traditional rows of desks were too restrictive and uncomfortable for students which in turn affected attention span and retention. His room offers bean bag chairs, futons, stand-up stations and peddling devices so students can keep active, while learning. This concept is called ‘alternative seating’ and it has now been adopted by other educators across the nation,” the nomination said.
“A second example is he offers interesting contests for various learning units to challenge students in a fun environment so they reach their full learning potential and rewards students for their efforts. This concept is now called ‘gamification’ and it is being presented at national education seminars.
“He also heads up the technology programs in his building to ensure the use of new technology is used as an adjunct to learning and recognizes students now embrace technology unlike previous generations. Walk into Trevor’s room and the learning environment attests to his passion and vision. Trevor’s methods and ideas are definitely producing results,” the nomination said, noting the statewide testing scores for his students have been the highest in the county for three years in a row.
Szafranski earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in administration. He has been an educator for 14 years, all with the Swan Valley 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.