A Kalamazoo County educator known for creating relationships with students and through those connections challenging them to excel academically and to help them overcome problems and develop as individuals has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Shannon Wintz, teaches English language arts for sophomores, juniors and seniors at Kalamazoo Central High School.
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 Wintz will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Wintz said she chose a career in education because “education is in my blood” with a father and sister and other family members who were teachers. “I wanted to be a teacher to ensure every student knows they have a purpose in this world.”
“My favorite part of being a teacher is when a student discovers or uncovers an answer. That ‘light bulb moment’ is so powerful.”
Wintz said her students motivate her to do her best every day. “My students are the reason that I get up each day. The love I feel from my babies in the classroom makes every day brighter. We climb all the mountains together. They need me and I need them. The relationships we create are embedded with us forever.”
A student’s mother nominated Wintz for the Excellence in Education award, saying “she has the keen ability to care, love, and yet challenge her students at the same time. She goes above and beyond in her classroom by making each student her top priority.”
“She provides an intellectually challenging course, but what is unique about her is that she is one of the most caring people. She takes the time to ask her students more than just about what’s going on in the classroom. She will take the time to find out what is happening in students’ lives. This helps her connect to them and them to her,” the nomination said.
“If you ask students why they love her so much, it is because she ‘gets’ them. Her students talk to her. If you think this is easy, try having a conversation with a teenager.”
The mother noted that her son struggled with depression for a time and even contemplated suicide.
“Ms. Wintz could see he was going through something very difficult and reached out to him to talk through what was troubling him,” the nomination said. “Even though he would not share with me right away, he did share with Ms.Wintz and she was able to get through to him. He is now healthy and happy and well past that troubled time. However, without her love and caring for him, I don’t know if I would be able to say that. I thank her that I have the opportunity to see my son every day.”
Wintz earned a bachelor of arts degree in education from Western Michigan University and is doing graduate work at Drake University and Marygrove College. She has been an educator for 15 years, the last nine at Kalamazoo Central High School.
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.