A Bay County educator known for setting high standards for his students and helping them to succeed with individual attention and innovative approaches has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Mark Kuizenga, teaches business and technology at the Bay City Central High School, which is part of the Bay City Public 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 Kuizenga aired earlier this week in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and will air tonight in Saginaw and Detroit.
Kuizenga said he chose a career in education because “I love working with kids. My students are the reason I love teaching. I get motivated when I get to see my students making connections between what we’re doing in class and their lives.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Kuizenga described him as an educator who “makes learning engaging, vibrant, and relevant for students. His work and his accomplishments set a standard of excellence for all teachers.”
“His passion for teaching is demonstrated in his strive for instructional expertise, creativity and innovation in his classroom. He works diligently to improve his courses and craft of teaching,” the nomination said.
“He sets high expectations for all learners, and has many special needs students who have mastered the course material through his differentiation and the supports these students need. Mr. Kuizenga works to establish rapport with all his students and they know he cares about them and their goals,” it said.
“He arrives an hour early every day to open the computer lab for students who do not have access at home. Central High School has many students who live in generational poverty, so having this access is so important to them. He also provides guidance to these students, many of whom are not in his classes, but need some help with their assignments.”
The nomination added that Kuizenga’s personal finance lessons, using a Dave Ramsey curriculum, have hit home with his students. As part of those studies, students recently were asked to write a letter about what they learned and how they planned to apply that knowledge to their personal lives.
The letters prompted a quick response from Ramsey’s organization, which focuses on practical answers for life’s tough money questions. The letters showed that “Mr. Kuizenga is doing an exceptional job” and “contained many examples of students who have learned so much about how to take responsibility of their financial future,” the nomination said.
“Student’s stated they think the course should be a graduation requirement and how helpful they found Mr. Kuizenga’s guidance in preparing for the world after high school. One student expressed his desire to use this knowledge to not make the same financial mistakes his parents have made! Another shared he had already started to take steps towards saving for college and working part time in order not to go in debt.”
Kuizenga holds a bachelor of arts degree in business, a bachelor of science degree in business education, and a master of arts degree in education technology. He has been an educator for 22 years, all but one with the Bay City 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.