A Huron County educator known for encouraging students to excel and for providing them new experiences and learning opportunities, such as trips to a Shakespeare festival, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kathleen Tighe, teaches English language arts at the Caseville Middle/High School, which is part of the Caseville Public School district. Tighe also serves as the faculty advisor for the annual yearbook and the online student newspaper, the Eagle Vision. Additionally, Tighe serves on the executive committee of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of English.
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 Tighe will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Tighe said she was attracted to a career in education because “I have always loved reading and writing and I had some great teachers who helped me develop those skills and talents. Teaching enables me to ‘pay it forward’ and help hundreds of others develop those same skills and talents.”
She said that seeing students improve and grow is her favorite part of being an educator. “I get to know my students so well, I can really see their improvement and growth over the years in my classroom. That’s an incredibly satisfying thing, something that doesn’t happen in many other fields.”
Tighe said her students and their futures motivate her to do her best every day. “I am the only English teacher my students have after ninth grade. I have a huge responsibility to ensure that my students learn the skills they will need in the future, regardless of the paths they chose.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Tighe said that “she provides students the support they need to believe that they can succeed.”
“She also has inspired many students to apply to major universities and then helped them through the process. On her own time, she has been helping students with their college essays throughout her teaching career. Many of her former students have come back to visit her and tell her that English was the class they were most prepared for in college,” the nomination said.
The nomination added that as part of her curriculum, Tighe takes her junior and senior students to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario every two years as a way to provide them with new experiences and enhance their understanding and love of the English.
“This year, they saw a production of Julius Caesar. Her classes had been studying the play, so seeing it performed live by professional actors was quite a rewarding experience for the students.”
The nomination added that Tighe works tirelessly to raise money to fund the trips, applying for funding from the Caseville Booster Club and the Caseville Arts Council, and also selling parking spaces during the Caseville Cheeseburger Festival, and working in the booster club’s cheeseburger booth every year at the festival.
Some of the other assignments in her curriculum use a wide range of new technology, including students writing and then performing on video, the nomination said.
Tighe earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and communications from Rutgers University and a master of arts degree in English from the University of Michigan-Flint. She also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from the College of New Jersey. She has been an educator for 31 years, the last 18 with the Caseville Public School district.
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.