The award winner, Megan Sidge, teaches students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at Hickory Woods Elementary, which is part of the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools.
Sidge is a second-generation special education teacher who fell in love with the profession through volunteering in her mother’s classroom at a young age. Her compassionate and structured approach helps her students grow inside and outside of the classroom.
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. 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.
Each year, one of the weekly winners is selected as the Educator of the Year and receives a $10,000 prize.
The Michigan Lottery recently presented Sidge with the award during a surprise Zoom call.
“I am so honored to be selected as the Michigan Lottery’s Educator of the Year,” said Sidge. “This would not be possible without the help and support of my Hickory Woods family. I am truly thankful for being part of such a wonderful team.”
“Megan is so deserving of this honor. She works tirelessly to advocate for her students, families, and her team,” said Hickory Woods Elementary principal, Patricia Chinn. “She does this with a constant positive outlook and desire to grow. Serving students as individuals is at the heart of everything she does.”
More than 650 educators from across the state were nominated for an Excellence in Education weekly award during the sixth year of the program and 34, including Sidge, were selected to win a weekly award.
Previous winners of the Educator of the Year award were:
2019 – Stewart Kieliszewski, an Earth science, biology, mechatronics, and media teacher for eighth through 12 graders at the Ubly Community Schools.
2018 – Kerri Moccio, a first grade literacy intervention specialist at Bedford Elementary School in Dearborn Heights.
2017 – Linda Holzwarth, a social studies teacher at Portage West Middle School in Portage.
2016 – Daniel Carr, a Spanish and sports marketing teacher at Waverly High School in Lansing.
2015 – Michael Craig, a special education teacher at the Charles Drew Transition Center in Detroit.
She said her favorite part of being an educator is “being with my students every day and watching them grow inside and outside of the classroom.”
Sidge added that her students motivate her to do her best each day and “I treat my students as if they were my own kids.”
A colleague nominated Sidge for the Excellence in Education award, describing her as “caring, compassionate, structured, organized, collaborative, and highly skilled.”
“She works in a basic classroom program that supports six students with high levels of need. She is a part of a team of three teachers, oversees two paraprofessional staff on her team, and serves as a mentor to a new teacher,” the nomination said.
“Her job is challenging and at times can be very overwhelming. Not only does she work with the students and families on her caseload and the staff that supports her programming, but she also works with all of the general education teachers in our building to ensure that each of her students has access to the general education classrooms to the best of their ability.
“She takes on the toileting issues, the aggressive behaviors, the social skills training, and the academic needs with grace, grit, and gratitude! Each day is a new challenge and Megan approaches it with a positive attitude and a smile.”
Sidge earned two degrees from Michigan State University: a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in special education with an endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has been an educator for five years, the last four with the Walled Lake Consolidated 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.