The award winner, Shelia Duren, is a fourth-grade teacher at Beech Elementary School, which is part of the Redford 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 Duren aired Tuesday in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and will air on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Duren said helping in her church as a child led her to a career in education.
“I grew up in the church and enjoyed helping out in Sunday School, Young Peoples Union Meetings, and Vacation Bible School. I had a passion for the youth, and always wanted to be able to serve them. I wanted to provide children and young people with opportunities to grow and fulfill their potentials.”
She said seeing the growth in her students is her favorite part of being an educator.
“Seeing how the children grow from September to June academically and emotionally is especially rewarding. My other favorite part of education is the relationships I’ve created with my students’ families over the years.”
A parent of a former student nominated Duren for the award. The nomination cited her “old school” approach and the positive environment she fosters in her classroom.
“Ms. Duren is one remarkable and exceptional teacher who cares about the education of her students. She is from the “old school” teaching era, in which she educates with a structural approach that resonates within her classroom. Her teaching style takes parents back to their childhood days. She makes parents value how important an education is for their children.
She loves her job, and she is very approachable when it comes to helping children complete their educational material. Her students are eager to learn and she is able to assist them without making them feel as if they do not know the answer.
Her classroom is full of little business girls and business boys and when you walk in the room you feel it in the atmosphere. She is a problem solver and a communication expert for her elementary students. She helps the quiet students talk and the chatterboxes appreciate the value of quiet time. She is not only a teacher, but also a supporter, an encourager, an innovator, and a caregiver.”
Duren earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Michigan State University and master’s degree in education from Wayne State University. She has been an educator for more than 20 years, the last three with Beech Elementary 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.