Charlevoix County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

Janae Russell poses for a photo with Michigan Lottery public relations director, Jeff Holyfield, after accepting her Excellence in Education Award.

Janae Russell poses for a photo with Michigan Lottery public relations director, Jeff Holyfield, after accepting her Excellence in Education Award.

A Charlevoix County educator known for her tireless efforts to be a “champion” for students and to help them realize their potential and succeed in the classroom and as individuals has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Janae Russell, is an assistant principal for the middle school and high school of the East Jordan Public Schools.  She also serves as an online math teacher for Graduation Alliance, teaching students who have dropped out of school and other non-traditional students.

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 Russell will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.

Russell said her love of math and children led her to a career in education.  “I have always loved math and when I was in school, I found that I loved tutoring my classmates.  I love children and helping them to succeed.  I find being an educator is a very rewarding career.”

She said that her favorite part of being an educator is “working with the students in various ways, first as a teacher and now as an assistant principal.  I want every student to realize they have potential and can be successful and I work hard to help them realize their potential.”

Russell said the students motivate her to do her best every day.  “Students all need a champion in their life. Each day, I encourage students and help them to believe in themselves.”

Janae Russell is interviewed after being presented with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

Janae Russell is interviewed after being presented with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The Excellence in Education award nomination for Russell described her as “going above and beyond by spending countless hours outside the typical school day working on her school duties.”

“Janae lives her life to help children, both her students and her own,” the nomination said, adding that she balances her heavy school workload with being a mother to five boys, aged 2 to 11.

“In addition to her job in East Jordan as an assistant principal, she also teaches mathematics online.  With the online teaching, she finds great joy in being able to help non-traditional students earn a high school diploma.  She is teaching students ranging in age from 14 to 70 and loves learning the life story of those students,” the nomination said, noting Russell was a classroom math teacher for 14 years before becoming an assistant principal.

Russell earned a bachelor of science degree in secondary education from Central Michigan University and also holds a master of arts degree in school administration from Grand Valley State University.  She has been an educator for 16 years, the last 15 with the East Jordan 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.
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