A Gratiot County educator known for her commitment to helping students with disabilities improve their health and their lives through physical activity and for her support of Special Olympics has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Cheryl Evers, provides Adaptive Physical Education services in 10 schools served by the Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District. The Gratiot-Isabella RESD is headquartered in Ithaca. Adapted Physical Education is physical education that has been adapted or modified to meet the motor, cognitive or behavioral needs of a person with a disability.
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 Evers will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
“I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a teacher. I would come home from half-day kindergarten and make the other kids at day care sit in front of the chalkboard and teach the alphabet,” Evers said.
She said her favorite parts of being an educator are “seeing my students smile while moving and learning and helping them reach motor milestones and learn new skills.”
Evers said her students motivate her to do her best every day. “It’s all about the students. They deserve my best. Honestly, I love bringing joy into my kiddos’ day by making movement fun.”
A colleague, Cathy Rayburn, nominated Evers for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “an awesome motivator and extremely creative. She has the gift to encourage some of the most profoundly disabled students to get their bodies moving. Cheryl has created some lifelong bonds with some of her students and their families.”
“Her work with special education doesn’t stop at the schools. Since she came to Michigan 11 years ago, she has been very involved in working with and preparing students for the Michigan Summer Special Olympics Games, which serves nearly 3,000 Special Olympics athletes annually,” the nomination said, adding “Cheryl solicits funding to buy tennis shoes for many of her students who do not have any.”
Evers attended Southern Illinois University for two years, then transferred to the University of Kansas where she earned a bachelor of science in education degree with an emphasis in sport science athletic training and physical education. She was a co-captain and member of the University of Kansas track and field team. She has been an educator for 22 years, the last 11 with the Gratiot-Isabella RESD.
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.