Antrim County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

An Antrim County educator known for building confidence and self-esteem in his students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Keith Schulte, is a physical education teacher with Elk Rapids High School. The school is part of Elk Rapids 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 Schulte will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.

Schulte said playing a role in developing young people led him to a career in education.

“After college, I worked in finance but felt a calling to education. I truly love being a part of students’ lives and helping them grow and mature into young adults.”

He said the energy his students have and helping them overcome challenges are his favorite parts of being an educator.

“There is a special energy each day I am with my students. They have so much going on in their lives from school, to extracurricular activities, to drama with friends, and I love being able to help them meet and overcome all of the challenges they face.”

A colleague nominated Schulte for the award. The nomination cited his ability to help students gain confidence and build self-esteem.

“Keith exemplifies what it means to be an outstanding physical education teacher. His dedication to all students is what separates him from others. As a physical education teacher, he does a great job of incorporating all aspects of wellness into his curriculum. The results that his teaching style and curriculum produce are life changing. Not only are students gaining physical strength by being a part of his class, but they are gaining confidence and building self-esteem while doing so.

“I have never witnessed a teacher and coach who can inspire students the way Keith does. He has found that perfect balance of knowing when and how and to push each student to their maximum potential both physically and mentally. As a special education teacher, what I appreciate most about Keith, is his ability to include students with disabilities into his classroom with grace. In an environment that can be very intimidating for some students, Keith makes every student feel welcome, and by the time students leave his physical education class I truly believe they are more confident and well-rounded individuals who are healthier in a variety of aspects in their lives.”

Schulte earned bachelor’s degrees from Northern Illinois University and Eastern Michigan University, and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. He has been an educator for 20 years, the last five with Elk Rapids High School.

Outstanding public-school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at 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.
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