The award winner, Kristen Ellsworth, is a special education teacher at Columbia Upper Elementary, which is part of Columbia 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 Ellsworth will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Ellsworth said her love of helping others led her to a career in education.
“I have always enjoyed learning and helping others,” said Ellsworth. “When I was younger, I enjoyed working with the younger students and helping them read or do their homework, so I always knew I wanted to go into a career where I was helping others.”
She said her favorite part of being an educator is “moments when students find their confidence and start believing in themselves and their abilities.”
A colleague nominated Ellsworth for the award. The nomination cited her kindness and patience, as well as holding her students accountable.
“Mrs. Ellsworth goes above and beyond each and every day to serve her students. She provides Special Education services for sixth-grade students who have a wide range of disabilities. Mrs. Ellsworth is patient and kind but also expects her students to work hard and do their very best. She is skilled in the art of helping students realize that a strong work ethic will yield positive results. Mrs. Ellsworth is a firm believer that through confidence building and encouragement, students will rise to meet and even exceed expectations.
As a peer, I am grateful for her creative ideas for supporting students in the general education classroom. I also know that when my students are with Mrs. Ellsworth, they are being challenged to do their best so they can develop good work habits and grow as learners.”
Ellsworth earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University. She has been an educator for six-and-a-half years, the last three with the Columbia 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.