An Oakland County educator known for sharing her passion for reading and learning with students, parents, and colleagues and creating new programs to train educators and parents to help boost literacy efforts has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kate DiMeo, serves as the district literacy coach for the Lake Orion Community Schools. She previously served as a kindergarten, first grade and second grade teacher in the district for 14 years.
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 DiMeo will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
DiMeo said she chose a career in education because of “the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children.”
She said her favorite part of her current position as a literacy coach is “empowerment. I work with teachers and empower them to make a difference with all the students they teach.”
She said she’s motivated to do her best each day because of “the excitement of a student who has learned to read or finally found the book that he or she wants to read.”
A colleague nominated DiMeo for the weekly Excellence in Education award, describing her as having “a passion for teaching” and especially for teaching reading and writing. “All of Kate’s efforts are focused on ensuring that ALL of our students are literate, which is the foundation for achievement.”
The nomination noted that in her current role, DiMeo has provided “professional development for teachers and support staff and doing all that is necessary to ensure that each and every child in our district is reading minimally at their level and beyond.
“Kate has trained pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, administrators, and parents. Through Kate’s leadership, our district’s literacy program has been transformed so much that we have received awards and our intermediate school district and local districts send teachers and administrators to Kate’s training sessions. Kate has been sought out to present and train in area districts as well as at state and national conferences,” the nomination said.
“Kate is willing to do whatever it takes to support teachers, from organizing their classroom libraries to teaching their class in order to model a strategy for the teacher. Above all, Kate remains closely tied to classrooms and absolutely realizes the specific needs of both teachers and students. Kate realizes the potential of the impact she can have on students and teachers.”
The nomination also noted that “Kate also takes her passion beyond the school environment. She raises awareness of our literacy curriculum through parent newsletters as well as facilitating parent book clubs where the purpose is to help parents support their children in all aspects of literacy. She hosts an annual community book drive where thousands of books are collected and repurposed. Last year Kate worked to implement Parent University where elementary parents receive weekly texts on tips and strategies to do with their children to build literacy skills. This year Parent University has expanded to host parent workshops where Kate works with parents to support their students at home.”
DiMeo earned bachelor of arts degree and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. She also holds an education specialist degree from Oakland University. She has been an educator for 21 years, all with the Lake Orion 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.