The award winner, Colleen Berry, is the nutrition services supervisor for Canton High School. The school is part of Plymouth-Canton 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 Berry will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Berry said that helping children prepare to learn by filing their bellies led her to a career as in food service for the school district. “Some of these children only eat at school, so making sure they have nutritious meals to help prepare them for learning is important. A well-fed student is ready to learn.”
Berry said building relationships with the students and making an impact on their lives in the brief time she has with them each day motivates her to do her best each day. “Students can’t learn if they are hungry, so each day our staff does our best to prepare nutritious meals for each student and to serve each meal with a smile.”
A colleague nominated her for the Excellence in Education award. The nomination cited her leadership and dedication to feeding students, and her ability to adapt to the challenges the school faced at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, Colleen had to change gears and turn into a new community service to provide food to these families difficult times,” the nomination said. “Having meals with fruit, vegetables, and milk available helped countless families during the school weeks while children had no school.
“Colleen had a lot of help from the administration and cafeteria staff to pitch in and assist her efforts, but her service over the years is an inspiration to me and she always does it with a smile!”
Berry attended Canton High School and has worked in the district’s food service department for 13 years, including three years as the cafeteria manager at Canton High School.
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.