A Bay County educator known for using hands-on experiments and activities to engage her students and getting them involved with community service projects – such as taking therapy dogs to senior living facilities – has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Karrie Marciniak, teaches third grade at Mackensen Elementary School, which is part of the Bay City 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 Marciniak will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Marciniak said she was attracted to a career in education because “I wanted to make an impact on kids and help them to love learning and make lasting memories.”
“My favorite part of being a teacher is building relationships with kids and showing them that they all possess many beautiful gifts,” she said.
Marciniak said her students motivate her to do her best each day. “I want my kids to love learning and make lasting memories in the third grade. I want them to recognize their own gifts, as well as the beauty that resides within others.
“I want all of the kids who walk into my classroom to feel safe, seen, heard, and celebrated. It’s become a passion of mine to incorporate social and emotional learning into our everyday routine.”
The Excellence in Education award nomination for Marciniak described her as “a caring, devoted, involved and hard-working third grade teacher.”
“She strives to provide her students with the best possible learning environment with many approved Donors Choose project requests,” the nomination said, referring to a website that allows people to donate money for classroom projects across the nation.
“They have flexible seating, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) supplies, an incubator for chicks, a 3-D printer and much more.
“Karrie has been instrumental in writing and bringing numerous grants to benefit her school. She encourages teachers in Donors Choose projects and for students to write grants. Karrie has been doing these kinds of things for years and continues to keep coming up with ideas such as ‘Thinking Thursdays’ for STEM activities, hatching chicks and ducklings, anti-bullying pledges with school-wide participation, and kids making hats for hospital babies,” the nomination said.
“She involves parents in many of the projects and promotes self-esteem, kindness, and community service orientation in her kids.
“Karrie leads her team of kiddos in a community service group called ‘Mackensen Paws For A Book.’ She has therapy dogs brought to class because the kids love reading to them. Team Paws kids go to senior living facilities to visit, campaign against bullying, collect socks and underwear for the local homeless shelter, and to promote kindness.”
Marciniak earned a bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University and has taken graduate courses at Eastern Michigan University. She has been an educator for 17 years, the last nine with the Pay City Public 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.