A Huron County educator known for her dedication to help students reach their full potential and for helping them develop as leaders through school and community programs has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Haley Schulz Cucinello, teaches high school agricultural science and serves as the FFA advisor for the Elkton-Pigeon-Bayport Laker Schools in Pigeon.
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 Schulz Cucinello will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Schulz Cucinello said the teachers she had as a student inspired her to pursue a career in education. “I had excellent teacher role models throughout my time in elementary and high school. They showed me that education didn’t have to be based on a lecture approach, it should be fun and engaging.”
She said the students are her favorite part of being an educator. “My students are some of my favorite people. They are my favorite part of every day. To me, going to school each day is a privilege. Building meaningful relationships with them is what I cherish the most.
“The potential of my students drives me each day. Helping them to reach beyond what they think they’re capable of is what I strive to do each day. My goal is to help them become confident young leaders.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Schulz Cucinello said that she has “dedicated herself to her students to help them see their potential and achieve their dreams.”
“Haley actively seeks ways to increase student involvement in the classroom, school and community. She feels that by doing this, students take ownership of their learning because there is a vested interested in what they’re learning,” the nomination said, adding that as agricultural science teacher and FFA advisor “she has many roles, from farm manager, public speaking coach, greenhouse manager and supporter of students in and out of the classroom.”
The nomination noted during her five years as FFA advisor at Laker Schools, Schulz Cucinello – a former FFA member and state officer – has had “six national qualifying teams, 14 state champion teams, four FFA state officers, and countless degree recipients of various forms. She has dedicated herself to her students for them to see their potential, and achieve their dreams.”
“Additionally, she hosts numerous local events, but if you ask her what her favorite is, it is her FFA program’s ‘Living to Serve’ phone-a-thon. Students call local business and individuals asking for donations. The funds raised support students in their school that may experience tragedy or hardship and local Meals on Wheels programs and area food pantries.”
Schulz Cucinello earned a bachelor of science degree from Michigan State University, where she majored in environmental studies in agriscience and minored in integrated leadership and community engagement and education. She has been an educator for five years, all with Elkton-Pigeon-Bayport Laker 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.