An Oakland County educator known for treating her students as guests, encouraging them to excel in the classroom, and for using hands-on activities to instill a love of science in students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Sharon Taylor, is a seventh grade science teacher at Glenn Levey Middle School, which is part of the Southfield Public Schools. It is home to the district’s middle school STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).
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 Taylor will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Taylor said her love of science and desire to share it with students attracted her to a career in education. “My idea is to introduce students to science where they are applying their knowledge in real world settings. My idea is for students to learn science as they do science.”
She said that his favorite part of being an educator is “seeing the excitement in students as they learn, ask questions and start using science language in their conversations and explanations.”
“The excitement from students as they engage in learning motivates me to continue researching laboratory projects and other activities that spark their interest in science and STEM,” she said. “I consider each of my students to be my guest and I want to treat them as a guest. I want them to know I appreciate them and make them feel welcome and comfortable in my classroom.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Taylor said that “her love, concern, and inspiration and desire for students to excel makes students want to do their best.”
“Mrs. Taylor has a philosophy in which she sees her classroom as her home and the students as her guests. She plans her lessons so that students will want to come back and visit. Her philosophy seems to work,” the nomination said. “Visitors to her classroom see students having fun and engaged as they collaborate and collect data.”
Many students describe Taylor as “their best and favorite teacher,” the nomination said, adding that includes a young man who informed Taylor in eighth grade that he hated science.
“Mrs. Taylor’s response was, ‘That is OK. Hold that thought and we will revisit this statement at the end of the school year.’ This student became Mrs. Taylor’s star student. He became interested in the labs, volunteered to compete in science competitions, and won first place in the school’s science fair.
“He went on to college and Mrs. Taylor attended his graduation where he was awarded a degree in aeronautics engineering. All the while, this young man made it known that the reason he is where he is today is because Mrs. Taylor got him to love science.
He wrote a “thank you” note to Taylor. “Thank you for starting all this! I owe my success to you as a teacher and person who brought me to the STEM world. Because of you, I love science and I am making a career out of it. Keep on being that inspiration to those in your classroom.”
Taylor earned a master of arts degree in teaching from Wayne State University. She has been an educator for 15 years, the last year with the Southfield Public Schools.
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.