An Oakland County educator known for using trips to Costa Rica and other places to teach students about science and the environment and for his dedication to help students learn and succeed has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kevin Cousino (pronounced COO-SE-NO), teaches science, biology, and advanced placement environmental science at Walled Lake Northern High School, which 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 Cousino will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Cousino said he was attracted to a career in education because he wanted “to work with and help shape our future leaders.”
He added that his students motivate him each day in the classroom because “if I do a good job, I can inspire students to want to learn more.”
A student’s mother nominated Cousino for the Excellence in Education award, describing him as “a very inspiring teacher who is very much loved by his past and current students! He is an extremely positive teacher who loves teaching and his students.”
“What students learn in Mr. Cousino’s class is how to think about their world and the impact mankind has on it. He asks probing questions that students grapple with to build on the science targets being taught in his classroom. Students don’t have to agree with Mr. Cousino to voice their options. He just requires them to back up their ideas with evidence,” the nomination said.
The nomination said that her daughter was a member of a group of students that Cousino took on a nine-day visit to Costa Rica “to learn firsthand about the diverse environment there as well as the environmental polices in place to protect it.
“This trip was a very powerful learning experience. My daughter was able to observe relationships among species, ecological environments, and meet students in very poor rural areas and gain global perspectives on education.
“He frequently takes groups of students to Costa Rica, a country with rich ecosystems, and teaches his students to give back to the people. Students traveling with him are asked to bring loads of classroom supplies to help the students of there. He takes students to a local school to meet with the students in these schools to learn about their schooling and culture. He also takes them to local areas to teach how to protect our environment.
“Mr. Cousino also has provided lots of local opportunities for students to experience engaging outdoor environmental activities.
The nomination added that Cousino also is “a leader in so many ways. He was appointed a leader in a federal challenge grant involving schools in three different states to help teachers collaborate and develop lessons to share. He helps teachers in the district learn computer programs. Lastly, he maintains a connection to his past students, helping them navigate through the challenges of college and careers.
We feel very blessed that Mr. Cousino was my child’s teacher, mentor, and inspiration. He is the teacher who has inspired my daughter to want to major in environmental science!”
Cousino earned an associate’s degree from Schoolcraft Community College, a bachelor’s degree in biology and education from Eastern Michigan University, and a master’s degree in instructional technology from Wayne State University. He has been an educator for 26 years, all with the Walled Lake Consolidated School District.
Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at http://bit.ly/ExcellenceInEducation or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.
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.