The award winner, Morgan Grifka, is a first-grade teacher at Westfield Charter Academy.
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 Grifka will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Grifka said an experience in college led her to a career in education.
“During my sophomore year of college, I participated in an AmeriCorps organization called Jumpstart. It was through this experience that I became exposed to the many inequities our current education system fosters. Concerned and frustrated, I decided that I wanted to do something about this – I wanted to be a part of the solution. The rest of my college career was spent in classrooms throughout the community, assisting numerous children, and finding my true passion, teaching!”
She said the uniqueness of each day as a teacher is her favorite part of being an educator.
“My favorite part about being an educator is that every day is different! No matter what I anticipate, expect, or plan for, each day brings about new and exciting challenges. This work allows me to be creative, flexible, and really keeps me on my toes. It can be overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I tell my students that every day is a chance to do better and be better, and I hold myself to this same standard.”
A colleague nominated Grifka for the award. The nomination cited her dedication to her students and her positive attitude.
“Mrs. Grifka is simply the best! She genuinely loves her students. She creates a learning environment that fosters care, compassion, and a love for learning. Mrs. Grifka has created a classroom that makes students feel safe and aren’t afraid to try because she will be there to help them. She is viewed as a leader to her teammates and school community. Parents adore her and speak highly of her and wish she could be their child’s forever teacher. Mrs. Grifka works late into the evening and on the weekend to make sure her lessons are all differentiated to meet her students’ needs.
“I’m proud to work closely with Mrs. Grifka and can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes as an educator. Westfield’s mantra is Westfield Warriors: Achieve, Believe, Succeed and with Mrs. Grifka as their teacher student’s do just that.”
Grifka earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and master’s degree from Lesley University. She has been an educator for six years, the last three with Westfield Charter Academy.
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.