A Kent County educator known for using hands on activities, such as tracking the life-cycle of trees, and personalized attention to help her students grow as individuals and succeed in the classroom has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Lana Tran (pronounced TRAHN), teaches first grade at Knapp Forest Elementary School, in Grand Rapids. The school is part of the Forest Hills 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 Tran will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Tran said she was attracted to a career in education because “I’ve had many wonderful teachers who were very supportive and caring and whom I looked up to. They inspire me to do my very best.”
She said that being with her students is her favorite part of being an educator. “I love seeing their smiling faces first thing in the morning or receiving an email from a parent in the evening telling me that their kids love school or had a great day.”
Tran said the importance of getting her young students off to a good start in school motivates her to do her best every day. “I want to make their early school experience positive and memorable. At the end of the school year, I want all of my children to have had a fantastic year in first grade, really enjoy being school and become much better readers and writers than when they first came into my classroom.”
A student’s mother nominated Tran for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “an exceptional teacher. She is kind, thoughtful, caring, and the hardest working teacher I have ever met. She works day and night to provide the best learning environment for her students. Each child is unique to her and no one two students are taught in the same way. She is amazing.”
“She goes beyond expectations to get her first graders learning every single day. My son did not love kindergarten and struggled to read. When he became a student of Mrs. Tran’s, he began to love school. She is dedicated to helping all her students succeed. Every day the students are engaged in fun learning activities. All units are hands-on, fun, and allow students to discover knowledge,” the nomination said.
“The students work together daily on reading strategies, math skills, technology, and science. They have watched the life-cycle of trees through the year, cleaned the school grounds for Earth Day, became word detectives where they took ownership of learning words and reading strategies, and learned to be good and kind humans.
“Mrs. Tran sends home weekly newsletters, so all parents are informed about the learning activities and always includes pictures of the students. Each week, a student is the Star of the Week and gets to share information about themselves and sit in the special chair. Every day parents get videos and pictures on Seesaw so we can see what our children are doing and learning,” the mother wrote.
“Her students grow in their academic knowledge and also in their character and willingness to help others. She cares for the whole child and it shows daily. The children feel special in the big and small things she does for them daily. She had the class pick apples and make applesauce in the fall, hot chocolate on a cold winter day, and lots of art projects to help them learn and express themselves. She helped all 23 of her students make special gifts for Mother’s Day, took videos of each student saying a special message to their mom and released them on Seesaw on Mother’s Day.”
Tran, one of the Vietnam boat people, earned a master of arts in education from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids. She has been an educator for 26 years, all with the Forest Hills Public Schools. “I am very honored and excited to have received this award and I am forever grateful for the opportunity and privilege to work with so many wonderful children and parents!”
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.