An Oakland County educator known for her commitment to get students excited about learning and using hands on activities – including a student weekly news show – to help them grow academically and as individuals has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Whitney Marshall, is an informational literacy specialist at Long Meadow Elementary School, which is part of the Rochester Community 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 Marshall will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Marshall said her parents, both educators, inspired her to pursue a career in education. “My parents always had great stories about their students and the relationships they had with them and the impact that they were making on the lives of students. I always loved going to school with them. I always wanted to have a chance to change the lives of kids,” she said.
She said her favorite parts of being an educator are “the relationships I have with my students and the chance I have to get them excited about learning. Small things can make a big impact and sometimes you don’t know that you are making that impact.”
Marshall said the students motivate her to do her best every day. “I have a chance to work with all the students in the school and I love to see how the students interact with one another and how they change over the years. I love the chance to show kids how to be kind and share their story so they can highlight their best self. Our kids have so many great things to share, so it is a great opportunity to show them how to do so. The kids have so many awesome skills and so much to share. I love to empower them and celebrate them.
“As the media specialist, I feel it is so important to keep the students excited about learning and the relationship with one another. I have a unique opportunity to work with all the students and make an impact on 600 lives. There is something special about being able to highlight all of the wonderful things going on by sharing through our Broadcasting Club and social media outlets.”
A student’s parent nominated Marshall for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “creative, innovative, and driven to help every student in the building have a world class, 21st century learning experience.”
“Last year, she started a school broadcast program completely from scratch, piecing together whatever resources she could find to help fifth graders produce a weekly news broadcast. The quality of their production is amazing, especially considering they started with no resources and no experience.
“Ms. Marshall has the students do all of the work, allowing them creative freedom and use of all equipment. It is very empowering for them to tell the story of their school,” the nomination said.
“If you walk into the Long Meadow media center this year, it is unrecognizable from June. The media center received some district bond updates, but things that make it a special, learning wonderland that every student is desperate to be in every day were things she added on her own by applying for grants or getting creative. There is a Lego wall, a 3D printer, flexible seating, and various makerspaces.
“She had an incredible vision for the media center, specifically to make it into a place where learning, creativity, and innovation. It is truly something that has become the centerpiece of the school.”
The nomination noted that “Ms. Marshall is a staple at school events, going above and beyond her role to help shape the culture of the school, to make sure every student is included.”
Marshall earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Oakland University and a master’s degree in reading from Saginaw Valley State University. She has been an educator for 10 years, the past two with the Rochester Community 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.