A Tuscola County educator known for treating students as if they were her own children and for her commitment and patience to help struggling students improve their behavior has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Tracey Jaworski, is a kindergarten teacher at Cass City Elementary, which is part of the Cass City Public 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 Jaworski will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
“I have always loved young children. I spent a lot of time babysitting during my teenage years and just naturally went into teaching young children,” Jaworski said. “I absolutely love the unique, individual relationship that I build with each child.”
She said she views each student as one of her own children and that motivates her to do her best every day. “When I look at the kids in my classroom or kids in my school, I always try to treat them like I would want my own children to be treated. Each child is someone’s most prized possession and deserve to be treated like one.”
A colleague, Kathy Mroz, nominated Jaworski for the Excellence in Education award, saying “she represents everything that makes public education great. She is the personification of what it means to be a great teacher.”
“She is a wonderful woman who has a remarkable ability to believe in the goodness of all children, to see past the trauma and behaviors, and love the children she serves, no matter what,” the nomination said.
“My first day in this district I was told by the principal that a particular little boy entering kindergarten had significant behavior problem, and would likely be referred for a special education evaluation. That student was placed in Mrs. Jaworski’s classroom. The first few week were tough, but with tons of reinforcement for good behavior, teaching behavior expectation, love and patience, that little boy thrived, and a special education referral was avoided.
“I have seen this every year since my assignment in this district. The principal has so much confidence in Mrs. Jaworski’s ability to help kids. I have heard him say ‘I’m not worried, Tracey will get him (or her) on track.’
“She makes it look easy to work with children with difficult behaviors while simultaneously educating a full classroom of kindergartners. It is not easy and she knows exhaustion but she knows her efforts are worth it for her children.”
Jaworski earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in elementary education from Saginaw Valley State University. She has been an educator for 19 years, the past 18 with the Cass City 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.