A Saginaw County educator known for providing individual attention to students to help them reach their full potential and for encouraging female students to enter technology and engineering fields has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kevin Bidwell, teaches industrial technology at Heritage High School, which is part of the Saginaw Township Community Schools district.
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 Bidwell will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Bidwell said he was attracted to a career in education because “I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. Working in a classroom like mine offers a unique opportunity to do that.”
He said that his favorite part of being an educator is “watching a student gain a skill that requires hard work and persistence.”
Bidwell said that his students motivate him to do his best every day. “Students work hard in the classroom to do their best and I want to provide the best opportunity for my students.”
A former student nominated Bidwell for the Excellence in Education award, saying: “He caters to every one of his student’s individual interests and needs, ensuring they meet their full potential and have fun while doing it.”
She wrote that she’s in her senior year of college and plans to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and already has accepted a job offer. “Mr. Bidwell heavily influenced my path in life, a path that I previously thought was not an option for me as a young woman. With 15 percent of engineers being women and approximately 8 percent of mechanical engineers being women, I am confident that Mr. Bidwell will help increase those percentages.
“I am just one example. I know of many former classmates who have and are going on to become engineers, welders, machinists, or into related fields because of the personal touch Mr. Bidwell adds to his teaching style. To this day, I remember just how busy he was. There were always students trailing behind him, needing his help constantly. Despite how busy he was, never seeming to have a moment to himself, he always took the time to cater to each one of us.
“You would think that once the school day was done that he would finally get a moment to breathe, however, it was quite the opposite. Many students would spend their time after school working on their projects, sharpening their skills, and expanding their knowledge. I was one of these students. Now, more than three years after graduating from high school, I remember and appreciate the time, effort, and energy Mr. Bidwell spent towards all his students on a daily basis, but especially me.
“Entering high school, I was incredibly shy, lacked self-esteem, and doubted nearly everything I did or even said, assuming people wouldn’t care or notice. Being one of a handful of female students in his classes, it was incredibly intimidating at times.
“Through the years, Mr. Bidwell helped me to find my passion and took the time to not only teach, but mentor me. One of my proudest moments in life was winning first place in a state competition for something I made in his class. This was the moment my life shifted forever, and I gained the confidence to pursue engineering without a single doubt. I know I would not be where I am today without Mr. Bidwell and for that, I am grateful beyond words.”
Bidwell earned a bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University. He has been an educator for eight years, all with the Saginaw Township Community 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.