A Genesee County educator known for her commitment to help struggling students get the support they need to succeed has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Cari Shephard, teaches eighth grade math at West Middle School, which is part of the Grand Blanc 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 Shephard will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Shephard said she was attracted to a career in education because “I had a teacher who really made an extra effort to help me when I was struggling in school and it meant the world to me. I wanted to be able to do the same thing for others.”
“I just want to be kind and helpful and treat people the way I would want to be treated or how I’d want them to treat my children,” she said of her teaching style, adding “the kids and the people I work with” are her favorite parts of being an educator.
A colleague nominated Shephard for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “a caring educator who takes a pragmatic approach to get things done. She looks outside the box to provide help for her students when the system is unwilling or unable to respond to student needs.
“For example, she insisted that math students who were struggling would be given the proper assistance to achieve. She helped create a classroom that would support struggling math students that included differentiated instruction and additional support using the resources within the school by arranging classes differently,” the nomination said.
“Further, she is a commonsense educator. In many cases, she can model and suggest sensible solutions to problems that often defuse issues that cause stress to staff.
“She also gives back to her community by serving on the Durand school board. Through this service, she gains and shares insights beyond the classroom focus. It is this dual ability to look at schools, administrations, teachers, and most important students from more than one perspective that makes her such an exceptional educator.”
Shephard earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. She has been an educator for 20 years, all with the Grand Blanc Community Schools.
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.