A Midland County educator known for helping her students grasp concepts by using non-traditional approaches, such as building catapults and launching pumpkins with them, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Erin Martin, teaches 11th grade physics and 12th grade calculus at Bullock Creek High School in Midland. The school is part of the Bullock Creek 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 Martin will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Martin said she chose a career in education because “I liked science and thought it was fun and hoped that I could make it fun for my students. I want to work hard each day for my students because they deserve my best.”
She said her favorite part of being an educator is “getting to help students be prepared for college and life.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination described how Martin’s “primary focus is to engage her students in non-traditional ways to learn they key concepts being taught, especially in her physics classes.”
“Erin defines what it means to go above and beyond in her efforts to engage her students in learning physics and calculus, two subjects that can be very difficult for teens if taught strictly ‘by the book,’” the nomination said.
“Her success is measured by the enthusiasm of her students, the understanding of concepts those students demonstrate on exams, and the incredible popularity of her physics classes, which are standing-room only!”
The nomination noted Martin participated two years ago in a Saginaw Valley State University/Dow Corning Foundation STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program in which a local engineer worked with her and her students on a year-long project, “Feeling the physics of a car crash: Making an impact on seat belt use.”
The project used toy cars and force probes to predict and measure the force of various types of crashes, the nomination said, adding that Martin and her students continued to work with the engineer on a variety of STEM projects, including designing a self-sufficient home, an exploration and analysis of alternative energy sources, and designing and building small scale bridges and testing how much weight they could bear.
Martin also has worked with the Delta College STEM program to provide students the opportunity to design and 3-D print mobile phone cases that could withstand a 40 mph crash.
Martin earned two degrees from Saginaw Valley State University: a bachelor of science degree in physics, math and education and masters in natural science. She has been an educator for 19 years, all with the Bullock Creek School District.
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.