Kent County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

Tessa Bibler (right) poses for a photo with Michigan Lottery public relations director, Jeff Holyfield, after accepting her Excellence in Education Award.

Tessa Bibler (right) poses for a photo with Michigan Lottery public relations director, Jeff Holyfield, after accepting her Excellence in Education Award.

A Kent County educator known for making sure the personal needs of her students are met and for creating a coffee service business as a hands-on learning experience has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Tessa Bibler, is a special education teacher at the Kraft Meadows Middle School, in Caledonia.  The school is part of the Caledonia 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 Bibler will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.

Bibler said she chose a career in education to “have the opportunity to provide students with purposeful opportunities and to make an impact on my community.”

She said her favorite part of being an educator is “working with students for three years and seeing their personal growth day to day and from year to year. Empowering my students and seeing them proud of themselves makes me work harder every day.”

The Excellence in Education award nomination for Bibler said that she follows a comprehensive approach to helping her students

Tessa Bibler is interviewed after being presented with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

Tessa Bibler is interviewed after being presented with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

“In her special education classroom, student have a lot of complex needs. Tessa make sure all of her students’ basic needs are met before she starts her instruction. She is diligent about ensuring they are fed and feel loved and safe,” the nomination said.

It added that Bibler launched a coffee service this school year as a new hands-on learning experience for her students.  “On Wednesday, teachers and staff at Kraft Meadows Middle School order coffee and her students fill the order and deliver the hot coffee.  The business is called the Second Cup Café, because teachers and other staff members usually are ready for their second cup of coffee by the time they get to school.

“Tessa has her students in barista roles, delivering coffee, and doing ‘thank you’ notes. This micro-enterprise gives students opportunities to work on their social skills, functional money skills, set goals, and take pride in getting a job done. The staff members rave about getting an awesome cup of coffee and Tessa comes home excited about the smiles on her students’ faces,” the nomination said.

Bibler earned a bachelor degree in special education with an endorsement in teaching students with cognitive impairments from Central Michigan University.  She has been an educator for three years, all with the Caledonia 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.
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