The award winner, Janice Smith, is a school social worker at Fisher Magnet Lower Academy, which is part of the Detroit Public Schools Community 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 Smith will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Smith said her love of children led her to a career in education.
“I love working with children,” said Smith. “I thought by working as a social worker, I would be more impactful in their lives by helping shape and mold children, while supporting their emotional needs.”
She said her favorite part of being an educator is building relationships with students and their families.
“Building relationships is so valuable to my role,” said Smith. “Working together and witnessing a student do something or understand a concept for the first time makes my heart smile.”
A colleague nominated Smith for the award. The nomination cited her dedication, kindness, and the extra effort Smith puts in.
“When she enters a room, or if she is near you, she brings excitement, positivity, warmth, joy, love, professionalism, respect, and genuine kindness. Dedication and giving are the least I can say about her. Ms. Smith provides resources to our parents daily. She restores dignity to families who come to the school in need of help by listening to them with concern and doing everything in her power to address their needs. She mentors and resolves conflicts with students. I’ve seen Ms. Smith go out of her way to care for our students- providing transportation, hygiene products, clothing, food, and other services. She works beyond her scheduled time because she knows there is a job that needs to be done. She sits on various committees to nurture the growth, academic excellence, and social development of our school and the families we serve. She is an example of someone who loves her work and it is very evident.”
Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree in social work from Wayne State University. She has been an educator for nearly 30 years, all with the Detroit Public Schools Community 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.