The award winner, Tammi Kantola, is a seventh grade English and language arts teacher at Ravenna Middle School, which is part of Ravenna 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 Kantola will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Kantola said her mother was her “guiding force” to a career in education.
“From an early age, I can remember my mother telling me that one day I would make a great teacher,” said Kantola. “She gave me the ability to have a dream and the confidence to know I could do anything I tried.”
She said her favorite parts of being an educator are “the moments of learning she shares with the students, and the moments of excitement when they realize they have mastered a new skill or sense of accomplishment when they are successful.”
Kantola was nominated for the award by the parent of a former student. The nomination cited her love for her students and willingness to put in extra time to mentor and tutor them.
“Mrs. Kantola is known for her love of students. She is not just a teacher; she is a mentor! She puts in numerous hours a day after school to help students and parents and is the reason our district does so well in Destination Imagination. She strives to help our children do better and be the best they can. She goes out of her way to work with students who need extra help. She is the reason my child and many others are where they are at an educational level as she made my son comfortable enough to work thru his reading struggles and work on his grammar. She is an amazing mentor to parents and other teachers as well, as she has many years of experience.”
Kantola earned a bachelor’s degree from Lake Superior State University, a specialist degree from Eastern Michigan University, and a master’s degree in elementary education from Grand Valley State University. She has been an educator for 31 years, including 26 in Ravenna.
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.