A Saginaw County educator known for using multiple approaches, including Family Reading Nights and summer camps, to help instill a love of reading in students and for helping struggling students and their families meet their basic needs has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Beth Thompson, is a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Instructor/Literacy Coach at Merrill Elementary School, which is part of the Merrill 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 Thompson will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Thompson said she was attracted to a career in education because “I love being with kids and making a difference in their lives. Teaching was never just a job for me. It became part of who I am and how I live my life.”
She said her favorite parts of being an educator are “that I touch lives and encourage minds. That I team up with parents to get the best out of their children and can help make them successful.”
Thompson said her students motivate her to do her best every day. “I want to be the best I can be in order to be that model for my kiddos. I want to show them that ‘doing good’ is as important as being good at what you do. You get what you give so I need to give my all.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Thompson said that “her passion for children and families reaches far beyond her classroom.”
“Beth spearheads many of the initiatives that directly impact students’ quality of education and life. Renovating the Merrill Elementary Library was her most recent undertaking. Beth partnered with the Community Spirit Committee to fund an extensive redesign to create a place for children to engage in and enjoy literacy,” the nomination said.
“Beth collaborates with other staff to design and plan an outstanding summer school experience for eligible children. This summer camp allows children to engage in fun reading and writing activities, culminating with them taking books home to enjoy and share with family members. She has helped to start and co-directs the Kids Hope mentoring program in her building where life changing relationships become established between a caring adult and a child.
“Beth is an outstanding mentor for her colleagues, always available when teachers are in need of guidance and support. During the school year, Beth coaches her colleagues on best practices for literacy instruction as well as models and teaches young children the love of reading and writing. As a Title 1 teacher, Beth works with children who, for various reasons, are experiencing difficulty learning to read. She is a highly trained and effective literacy instructor, experiencing a high degree of success with struggling students.”
The nomination noted that Thompson works with colleagues and parents on “Family Reading Nights where parents and children come together to learn strategies that develop early reading and writing behaviors in the home. Beth has engaged in a leadership role in the Community Spirit Committee, a local fundraising effort to finance community improvement projects. She advocates for and encourages staff to participate in bettering our community through this effort.
“Beth is incredibly sensitive to students and families in our community who are in need of basic services. She has been known to make home visits to needy families, seek support from her church and community resources when struggling families need a safety net to get them through tough times. She also uses her own resources to ensure that children have what they need to survive and thrive. She does all of this and more without desire for thanks or recognition.”
Thompson earned a bachelor of science degree from Central Michigan University and also is trained as a reading recovery instructor. She has been an educator for 39 years, the past 32 with the Merrill 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.