A Macomb County educator known for her dedication to helping students succeed in the classroom and for her academic leadership and support of a number of student organizations has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Julie Wright, teaches Spanish at Utica High School, which is part of Utica Community Schools. Additionally, she teaches an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class that helps students get ready for college.
Wright also serves as the World Language Department chair for Utica High School, advisor for Utica United Club (an LGBTQ/straight alliance), the Diego Rivera chapter of the Hispanic Honor Society, the school’s Book Club and Recycling Club and as a teacher-mentor for the Senior-Sophomore Program. Additionally, she holds the position of head building representative for the Utica Education Association.
She was selected as the 2017 Utica High School Teacher of the Year after being nominated by her colleagues.
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 Wright will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Wright said she chose a career in education because “I love kids, learning and Spanish! It seemed like a natural fit.”
She said the students are her favorite part of being an educator and they motivate her to do her best each day. “My students are special to me and they make me want to work for them every day to make a difference.”
A student nominated Wright for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “the most wonderful teacher I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and having as a teacher. She truly is an amazing person.”
“She inspires me to do my absolute best, not only in my Spanish studies, but in all of my other academic areas. She always makes every student, no matter their sexuality, race or socio-economic status, feel successful, appreciated, and encouraged. To me, that’s a rare quality in any teacher or person,” the nomination said.
“Her mentorship has touched countless young people and has changed the community for the better. Every day, I see the difference she makes in the lives of so many students, including myself.”
Wright earned a bachelor of arts degree from Michigan State University and a master of arts degree from Oakland University. She has been an educator for 26 years, the last 17 with Utica Community Schools.
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.