An Oakland County educator known for adding hands-on community projects to classroom lessons to help broaden the education and perspective of her students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Meagen Granberry, is a third grade teacher at Mary Helen Guest Elementary in Walled Lake. The school is part of the Walled Lake Consolidated School 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 Granberry will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Granberry said she was attracted to a career in education because “I came from a low-income area and teachers had a huge impact on my life. I wanted to be able to have the same impact in students’ lives.
“I love watching kids get excited about learning. It’s wonderful to see their faces light up as they make connections, engage in questions and then transfer their learning. I treasure the ‘Ah-ha!’ moments that I see happen with students.”
She said her students and the educational philosophy of the Walled Lake district motivate her to do her best every day.
“I am lucky enough to teach in a school district that holds the philosophy: ‘Every child, every day.’ So many of our kids come in to school needing a personal connection or an individualized plan to give them what they need. My school is like a family and every single staff member works to love every student they way they need to be loved,” she said.
“Aside from reaching my students as learners, I love the ability to impact them as people. Showing them that they are valuable, that they can do hard things, and that they can make an impact on their world is a wonderful feeling. Sometimes, I take on a lot of extra things to try and give students new opportunities or help them see more of the world and I think, ‘Oh boy, what did I get myself into.’
“Then I will hear my students say something that lets me know that I have made an impact. It’s important for me to know that what I do with my students in the school year has a positive impact on the people they will become.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Granberry said that she dedicates many hours outside the classroom on a number of programs to help broaden her students’ perspectives and understanding of the world.
For two years, she helped students participate in the UNICEF Kid Power program, which is designed to encourage students to exercise more and complete learning activities about the world around them. The students earn Kid Power Points that they can use to support the causes that matter most to them.
Each student gets a band that records their steps and other physical activity and which Granberry monitored via a special computer application.
“This is both a collaborative and individual program, whereby the children set goals as a class and individually. Meagen helps students keep records, write about their experiences, provide feedback on their progress and brainstorm other ways to help people in need locally and around the globe,” the nomination said, adding that the program works with the school’s general education and physical education curriculum.
The nomination noted that Granberry “implemented a Kindness Project the past four years. Every February, students choose a group of people to help and they all work together to collect donations. Some of their projects provided food bags for the homeless, transition bags for children being taken into foster care, goodie bags that were passed out at children/women’s shelter, and gift bags for patients at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
“Additionally, Meagen raised funds to implement flexible seating in the classroom and provide a vertical indoor tower garden to grow healthy food for students. All these projects are curriculum based. Beyond the classroom she has volunteered the past five years for Royal Family Kids’ Camp, a camp and mentoring program for children in foster care.
The nomination said that Granberry went through training in the Oakland County Social Justice cohort in 2014 and “since then, she joined the social justice team and has written and presented modules for teachers across the district.” She received the Walled Lake Friend of Diversity Award in 2017.
Granberry earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in multicultural studies from Elmhurst College and a master’s degree in early learning reading and literacy from Walden University. She has been an educator for 15 years, the last 13 with the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, where she was honored as Teacher of the Year for 2011-12.
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.