A Monroe County educator known for connecting with students as individuals to help them succeed and inspiring them to do their best academically and outside the classroom has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Brenda Tally, teaches seventh grade English Language Arts at the Wagar Middle School, in Carleton. It is part of the Airport 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 Tally will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Tally said the teachers that she had as a student inspired her to become an educator. “I wanted to impact lives the way my life was impacted. I still have days that I think about the teachers who have made all the difference in my life.”
She said her favorite part of being a teacher are the “Ah-ha!” moments. “There is nothing better than seeing the face of a student who gets a new idea or concept and they realize that they’ve learned something new.”
Tally said the opportunity to help students succeed in life motivates her to do her best every day. “I grew up hard and teachers made the difference in my life. And I want to make that difference for others.”
Another teacher nominated Tally for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “a master at reaching students and showing them that she cares about their success, but does not accept less than their best in behavior, respect, or academics.”
“Brenda does not accept anything but a student’s best,” the nomination said. “She consistently devotes her lunch and after school time to working with students to give them the boost they need to understand concepts.
“She demonstrates finesse in her conversations and interactions with students, using the perfect mix of accountability, humor, forgiveness, and opportunity for restoration. I have learned a phenomenal amount about teaching, integrity, and character watching Brenda work with students and peers.
“She has embraced technology and works countless hours to use all our platforms to engage students in a meaningful way.”
The nomination noted that Tally “has consistently had the highest growth scores amongst her peers” and that she was asked to teach at the district’s summer school program for at risk kindergarten-through-second grade students because of her record of increasing student performance scores and her rapport with students and their families.
“We also have a seventh grade Jets Club that hosts periodic events after school for all seventh grade students to promote teacher/student and student/student relationships” and Tally plays a key role in planning and putting on the events, the nomination said.
“Brenda also inspires her students with her health and fitness, specifically, setting and reaching goals, persevering despite obstacles, and achieving at an amazing level. Brenda trains and competes in Ironman Triathlons in her spare time, inspiring others to do something without judgment.
“Although, this is not directly related to her teaching, it is an example to her students of goal setting, taking small steps to reach your goal, persevering during adversity, and maintaining focus. She is a positive example to all.”
Tally earned a bachelor of science degree at Eastern Michigan University and a master of education degree from the University of Michigan. She has been an educator for 24 years, the last 17 with the Airport Community Schools.
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.