A Hillsdale County educator known for her commitment to help students succeed inside and outside the classroom – including creating a program to help fourth grade boys build character and develop leadership skills – has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Jill Shreffler, teaches fourth grade at Gier Elementary School in Hillsdale. The school is part of the Hillsdale Community Schools 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 Shreffler aired Tuesday evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and will be aired tonight in Saginaw and Detroit.
Shreffler said that she comes from a family of educators and “I always wanted to be a teacher. Making a difference in children’s lives was what attracted me to a career in education.”
She said the students are her favorite part of being an educator. “They make it all worthwhile. It is an exciting career because no two days and no two years are alike.
“I really believe that kids learn best when they’re having fun. I do my best to make learning and school a fun, positive experience each day. We can be serious when we need to be, but we also laugh a lot and care about each other.”
The parent of a former student nominated Shreffler for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “patient and passionate” and that she “helped to instill a love of reading in my daughter.”
The nomination said that Shreffler and her husband went beyond her classroom duties to create a program last year – “Guys with Ties” – to help fourth grade boys in the school.
“Jill wrote a grant to obtain the funds to purchase shirts and ties for the fourth grade boys at Gier Elementary,” the nomination said.
“The boys wear their shirts and ties on the days of their monthly meetings. The motto of the club is ‘Look good. Feel good. DO good,’” Shreffler said.
Her husband, Nate Shreffler, is an assistant football coach at Hillsdale College and he and some of his players visit Gier Elementary each month to mentor the boys.
“The very first thing the fourth graders learn is how to tie a tie. Then, the boys learn practical skills, such as how to conduct themselves, to look people in the eye, and to give a good handshake. They also eat lunch together and demonstrate good dining etiquette,” the nomination said, adding that the Shrefflers have continued the program this school year.
Shreffler earned a bachelor of science degree at Miami University and a master of science degree at the University of Dayton. She has been an educator for 29 years, the past 19 with the Hillsdale Community Schools teaching kindergarten, reading interventions, and fourth grade.
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.