A Jackson County educator known for her dedication to help her students learn and to develop socially and as individuals has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Amber Keathley, teaches second grade at Northwest Elementary School in Jackson. The school is part of the Northwest 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 Keathley will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Keathley said as a student that school was a special place for her “and I wanted to make sure that I could provide that for kids.”
She said her favorite part of being an educator is when “I witness the moments when confidence is built, and kids truly take charge of their learning.”
Keathley said there is a simple reason that she does her best each day in the classroom: “The kids deserve it!”
A student’s parent, who also is a middle school teacher in the district, nominated Keathley for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “one of those teachers who goes above and beyond what is expected of them.”
“She inspires greatness in her students. While teaching the required state curriculum, she also makes time to teach values and develop leadership skills in her students. She teaches them to be kind and how to treat one another,” the nomination said.
“Mrs. Keathley makes relationships a priority in her classroom. She loves her students and they are important to her. She makes sure they are learning academically and emotionally and socially. She uses a lot of praise and wants students to build a healthy and loving relationship with school.
“My son often comes home and talks about filling someone’s bucket or asks if I need my bucket filled,” the nomination said. “My son excels in school. Mrs. Keathley has done an amazing job of making sure he is being challenged, even if that means she has to put in more hours and do more work.”
“Amber is also a leader in our district,” the nominator wrote, noting that she works with Keathley to bring middle school National Junior Honor Society students into second grade classrooms to work one-on-one with the younger students as a service opportunity.
Keathley earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a focus on English Language Arts for sixth through eighth grade from Grand Valley State University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in elementary education from Spring Arbor University. She has been an educator for 18 years, the last six with the Northwest 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.