The award winner, Sarah Dodds, is a virtual learning mentor for kindergarten and first grade students at Mary Helen Guest, Glengary, and Keith Elementary schools. The schools are part of the Walled Lake Consolidated 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 Dodds will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Dodds said that an elementary teacher inspired her and attracted to a career in education. “My first and second grade teacher brought joy to our classroom and made learning fun. I came back to volunteer in her class over the years, and that is when I found my calling as a teacher.”
She said her favorite part of being an educator is “the bonds I forge with my students and their families is hands-down the best part of being an educator.
Dodds said helping students achieve goals that were previously out of reach motivate her to do her best each day. “The children are absolutely my driving force. The moments when they can finally accomplish something, they have been trying to do for a long time are a huge source of pride for me.”
A parent nominated her for the Excellence in Education award. The nomination cited her welcoming classroom and her dedication to meeting each students’ learning needs.
“On the very first day of school she welcomed my daughter into her classroom with open arms and made her feel like she was family,” the nomination said. “We found out my daughter struggles in school, but Sarah always took the time to make sure she received the extra help she needed both in her class and with special services. She constantly reached out to our family to make sure all of our questions were answered or just to see how we were doing.”
Dodds earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, language arts, and general science, and a master’s degree in curriculum and teaching, both from Michigan State University. She has been an educator for 16 years, all with Walled Lake Consolidated School District.
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.