A Huron County educator known for working tirelessly to provide students with fun, hands-on learning experiences, such as two successful robotics programs and finding funds to buy a 3D printer for technology-related experiments, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Stewart Kieliszewski, teaches Earth science, biology, mechatronics, and media for eighth through 12 graders at the Ubly Community Schools. He also has coached track and cross country programs at the Ubly 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 Kieliszewski, will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Kieliszewski, who worked in retail for four years, said he decided to make education his career after serving as a math tutor at a community college that he was attending and finding that he had a talent for teaching and enjoyed it.
He said that his favorite part of being an educator is “working with young people and being around all the energy that they have. My days are never the same. Each day brings new experiences and challenges.”
Kieliszewski said that his students motivate him to do his best every day. “I feel it’s my duty to provide as many educational experiences as possible for my students. Although our school is in a rural area, I feel it’s important to provide my students the same experiences that get in larger schools.”
The father of two former students and a volunteer for the Ubly FIRST Robotics team nominated Kieliszewski for the Excellence in Education award, saying Kieliszewski “is a person who is meant to be a teacher. He has a sense of wonderment and enthusiasm for learning that excites and motivates the students. He talks to the students as people, not as kids that know less than him. Walking down the school hallways, he is continually greeted by students with smiles on their faces. He has been voted ‘Teacher of the Year’ by the Ubly High School students many times.
“Even though I have owned businesses for 27 years, working 55 to 60 hours a week, it still astounds me how much energy, enthusiasm and time Stew puts into his students and after school activities.”
The nominator quoted one of his sons who said that when Kieliszewski “announced to us that he was looking into starting a FIRST robotics team, I was unbelievably excited. At that point I was pretty involved with band and Quiz Bowl, but being a part of that team gave me something to truly love and be proud of. “It gave me a place to learn things I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to. Stew even made and taught an entirely new class at Ubly to help us students learn about woodworking, robotics and so much more. He really went above and beyond for us and never gave up when times were tough. On top of all that, he’s just a genuinely fun, likable guy who always got along with and did a great job teaching students, and I’m very happy to have had him there.”
The nomination described FIRST Robotics as “a very intensive engineering competition. Games are revealed to over 5,000 teams on the first weekend in January, then we have six weeks to analyze the game, design and build a robot to compete. As a mentor, I probably put in 150 to 200 hours after school and on weekends during the build period, and Stew puts in more than that!
“Now, add on the fact that this is a self-funded activity. It cost $5,000 just to be in the two district competitions, plus $4,000 for state competition and an additional $4,000 for world competition. The school does help us, but in 2016 we spent somewhere around $18,000 for the season with fuel and other traveling expenses. Stew spends a tremendous amount of time and energy on fund-raising for the team.
“Stewart has developed a group of dedicated mentors for the robotics program and all of us look up to him. We all know he will be honest and do the right thing for us and the students. The students know they can trust him. We all also know that he is just a phone call, text, or email away if we need him,” the nomination said.
“Over the past two years, Stew has helped develop a VEX robotics program at Ubly schools. VEX provides kits resembling Erector sets to help introduce younger students to the world of competitive robotics and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts.
“I am also happy to report that Ubly has more girls than boys involved in these programs, partly because of how comfortable they are with Stewart,” he wrote, adding that in the new class that his son described, Kieliszewski teaches students practical life skills such as “how to use hand and power tools, measuring with calipers, using voltage testers and multi-meters, soldering, how to do house wiring, and much more.
“He spends free time going to garage sales, using his own money to buy things he can use in the classroom. I have seen him buy non-working weed eaters, then having the students tear them apart and repair them, learning how engines work.
“A couple of years ago, he applied for and received a grant to purchase a 3D printer for the school. Over the past couple of years, he has bought three nearly identical Craftsman band saws. Two of them had the same non-functioning part, which was no longer available from Sears. Stewart took the good part off of the third one and had his students reproduce it with the 3D printer, showing them how to problem solve with technology.
“I recently stopped by his house, and in his garage he was mounting a toilet on a wooden frame with a tank under it, with a small pump to recirculate water. He planned on teaching ‘Toilet Technology’ to his class! Seriously, how many teachers would think of (or be willing) to do THAT?”
The nomination said that Kieliszewski also teaches a media class. “As part of that, he attends many sporting events, band concerts, school plays and just about every other school activity, helping his students learn how to use the recording and lighting equipment in real-life situations. Plus, he is a substitute bus driver, sometimes driving routes at the last minute, before or after school.
“Stewart is a juggernaut of positive energy that any school would be proud to have.”
Kieliszewski, earned a bachelor of science degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Saginaw Valley State University. He has been an educator for 27 years, the last 25 with the Ubly 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.