An Eaton County educator known for her generosity and dedication to helping students, such as providing groceries and clothing for students in need, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Natalie Donovan, is a third grade teacher at Maplewood School, in Vermontville. It is part of the Maple Valley Schools.
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 Donovan will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Donovan said she initially planned to become a veterinarian, then “I had the opportunity to volunteer in a classroom in Lansing to earn extra credit for a class that I was taking at Michigan State University. I loved it so much that I changed majors the next semester.”
“My favorite parts of being a teacher are finding a way to reach every child who enters my classroom and the amazing relationships that I have built with students and their families that last much longer than one school year.”
Donovan said her students motivate her to do her best every day. “The kids are everything. I want them to believe in themselves and know that I will help them in any way I can to help them be successful. I also want them to know that they are important outside my classroom as well.
“If they have needs, we identify a solution and make it happen. This includes clothing, food, or whatever they need to help them in all areas. I love my job and giving back is one of the best parts of it,” she said.
A friend nominated Donovan for the Excellence in Education award nomination, describing her as “an amazing teacher with endless dedication to her students.”
“I have never seen someone make learning so much fun through the activities and lessons that she spends countless hours pulling together. Last year, she planned a trip for her students to go to Mackinac Island, which was a great learning experience for them,” the nomination said.
“Her students mostly come from lower-income households, so she provides supplies for all of students and her classroom, including markers, pencils, tissues, cleaning wipes, etc.,” the nomination said, adding that Donovan doesn’t limit her support to the classroom.
“One of her students had a hard time focusing in class and Natalie found out it was because the student was hungry because there was no food to eat at home. So, she bought groceries for this child to take home so they could have a full belly and be ready for school.
“Natalie’s generosity, dedication and positivity amaze me. She is a positive role model who works hard to live life happily and be healthy,” the nomination said, adding that Donovan also is a wife and mother of three children. “She gives her all to everything and never asks for anything in return.”
Donovan earned a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in history and English from Michigan State University and also earned a master’s degree in education from Marygrove College. She has been an educator for 13 years, all with the Maple Valley 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.