An Oceana County educator known for using lab work and hands-on activities to share her love of science with students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Erika Fatura, teaches eighth through 12th grade science in the Pentwater Public Schools. Fatura also helps her students grow as individuals by leading an alcohol and drug awareness program and a recycling club. Plus, she serves as the varsity coach for the track and cross country teams and is the junior class advisor.
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 news segment featuring Fatura will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Fatura said she chose a career in education because “I have a passion for science and wanted to be in a position to encourage young people to develop a passion for learning science.
“I love the opportunity to be able to be a positive role model to young people. My main goal is to instill confidence in my students in their ability to think, reason, and solve problems.”
Fatura said her students motivate her to do her best every day. “My students deserve 100 percent from me at all times. I truly love what I do and for that reason, it never feels like work. Those times when one of my students has an ‘Aha!’ moment are what make it all worthwhile.”
A colleague from a neighboring school nominated Fatura for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “always going above and beyond for her students and striving to be the best teacher she can be.”
“If you walk into her classroom, you will see students engaged with a hands-on activity, lab experience or actively participating in a small group or whole group discussion,” the nomination said, adding that Fatura “brings her passion and love to the classroom.”
“Erika is a highly effective teacher and to describe her as ‘involved’ in school events and organizations would be an understatement. She organizes Red Ribbon Week, an anti-alcohol and drug program. She leads the Green School Club, focusing on recycling. She is the junior class advisor and is responsible for overseeing the junior-senior prom each year.”
The nomination added Fatura also serves as a mentor to other teachers. “I can honestly say I am a better teacher because of my opportunities to connect with Erika and discuss ideas with her.”
Fatura earned a bachelor of science degree in biology, zoology and secondary education at Michigan State University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and education at Michigan State. She has been an educator for 16 years, the last 15 with the Pentwater Public Schools.
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.