An Ingham County educator known for her dedication to help each of her students find the learning path that works best for them and for inspiring them to become lifelong learners has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Christine Batora, teaches third and fourth grade at the Okemos Public Montessori at Central, which is part of the Okemos 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 Batora will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
“I decided to become a teacher early in my undergraduate studies,” Batora said. “I realized I would have benefited from different teaching methods in grade school. That’s why the Montessori method attracted me; it takes a different approach to education.”
She said her favorite part of being a teacher is “the ‘Ah ha!’ moment when a child understands a concept that they originally thought was ‘impossible’ for them.”
Batora said learning with her students motivates her to do her best each day. “I love learning! Part of teaching is inviting children to research topics that interest them. As a result, the children become teachers. Whether my students are building a 10-foot high paper cave, writing play scripts, or composing lyrics about the distributive property, the ideas and energy come from them. The children collaborate and come up with great ideas!
“Our students plan out monthly service projects, participate in social justice book clubs, and partner with a first and second grade classroom to practice leadership skills. Every month, our class focuses on a continent or culture. We have a diverse student body. Children who have family from the area of interest are invited to present and share about their culture. This culminates in a celebration where food, song, and other cultural touchstones are experienced. The conversations following these activities invite understanding. This results in a peaceful classroom.”
A student’s parent nominated Batora for the Excellence in Education award, saying that she “helps each student to reach deep inside themselves to succeed on all educational works.”
The nomination went on to describe Batora as “a key leader within the district who continues to improve the Montessori philosophy through the whole school while working with an amazing staff. Their commitment to applying the Montessori philosophy ensures students the greatest likelihood of becoming confident and self-motivated, lifelong learners. Mrs. Christine and Okemos Public Montessori teachers educate with excellence, respect each individual and inspire learners for life who become contributing members of society.
“Words cannot even describe the amount of dedication she gives to everything she does. From committing her time, showing up with an amazing attitude and energy each and every day, all while being a mom of two elementary age boys. Many times, her dedication brings her, and sometimes her family, to work during weekends. It is not unheard of to get a phone call from Mrs. Christine at 7 a.m. on a school day, to talk directly with a student to address an issue.”
Batora earned a bachelor’s degree in education and Montessori certification from Xavier University and also earned a master’s degree in educational leadership with a focus on administration from Concordia University. She has been an educator for 20 years, the past 15 with the Okemos Public 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.