A Livingston County educator known for her dedication to her students and community – creating a therapy dog program for the Brighton school district and co-founding a non-profit to help local families dealing with life-altering illnesses – has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Karen Storey, worked as a special education teacher for 12 years and for the past seven years has served as a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) facilitator, providing supplemental, targeted and intense interventions for Maltby Intermediate School students requiring additional support. The school is part of the Brighton Area School 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 Storey will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Storey said she always wanted to be a teacher and follow the example of her mother “a Brighton teacher for 35 years. She is my true inspiration and role model.” She added that she grew up in Brighton and attended Brighton schools.
She said her favorite parts of being an educator are “the passion and love from our community. The support we receive for all of our kids from our parents, Parent Teacher Organization, local businesses, and others is what a community is about.”
Storey said her students and colleagues motivate her to do her best each day. “I have an opportunity to make an impact on each and every person that I come into contact with. My hope is to spread the kindness that is given to me each and every day with my students that I teach every day.”
The superintendent of the Brighton Area Schools, Gregory Gray, described her as “an example of an educator who gives her love and devotion to the entire community. She also is one of the most influential members of our community when it comes to school-community relations and the social-emotional learning aspect of our district.
“She’s an incredible person in our district. She’s an incredible person in relationship to our community,” he said. “Karen truly lives and breathes Brighton with her family, her husband, Scott, and her four sons, who all attend Brighton Area Schools.”
“She created our Pack of Dogs program, which is known statewide and nationally. The goal is for the Pack of Dogs to be that welcoming sight, help ease student reluctance and anxiety, provide students with a connection to school that they may have struggled to find otherwise. The dogs don’t judge and allow students to take healthy academic and social emotional risks,” he said.
“The uniqueness of this program is that all of the dogs are owned by the Brighton schools. All the dogs have been paid for by the community with each dog costing about $10,000. Karen has been the driving force behind this program – volunteering her own time – and with placing 12 dogs in all of the schools and the senior center.”
“She has also brought together a non-profit organization called ‘I Will Right Now,’ which raises money to help families that are really struggling in the Brighton Area school district.”
Storey described herself as co-founder of I Will Right Now and said the organization’s goal is simply to help those who need it. It has paid for funerals, flooring in homes, and also for a trip to Disneyworld for sick child.
Storey earned two degrees from Eastern Michigan University: a bachelor of science degree in special education and a master’s degree in reading. She has been an educator for 20 years with Brighton Area 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.