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

Left to right: - Heather Shubnell, Principal of MISD Bozymowski Elementary, Kathy Nolfo, and Paula Elias, Director of Center Programs MISD.

Left to right: Heather Shubnell, Principal of MISD Bozymowski Elementary, Kathy Nolfo, and Paula Elias, Director of Center Programs MISD.

A Macomb County educator known for her devotion to education and leaving a lasting impact on her students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Kathy Nolfo, is a special education teacher with the Macomb Intermediate 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 Nolfo will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.

Nolfo said a passion for learning and helping others led her to a career in education.

“I have always had a passion for learning and helping others. I believe the many excellent educators I have had, helped shape my love for learning. I wanted to play an instrumental role in helping students discover their full potential.”

She said working with students’ families and helping them overcome challenges are her favorite parts of being an educator.

“While I love to celebrate even the slightest success, I am also driven to help students work through difficult challenges. I love watching the students grow and evolve throughout the year. As my students transform, I witness the impact of every teacher who has touched their lives before me. I am always so honored when students return to visit me long after they have moved on to middle school. It is so satisfying to see how much they have continued to grow and achieve.”

A parent of a student nominated Nolfo for the award. The nomination cited her ability to push students to achieve their full potential.

“As the mom of a brilliant but mostly nonverbal Autistic son, our supports are key to his growth and success. We were blessed to meet Ms. Kathy after we started to transition to the higher grades of elementary school. Kathy heard of my son and his ability as a precocious reader-memorizer and very early on, she pushed him and his comfort zone. Every time I see my son engage and try, it’s that push and expectation for him to be the big boy that he is and is helping define what his responsibilities are to us and the world. She has had him for a few school years now and we are about to transition over the next year to junior high school and that while scary, it’s time and it wouldn’t be without that aging that came from growing into to the older kids room that Ms. Kathy is known for and provides.

“Since the pandemic, she has run her room from school online with many new students and it’s like they’ve been with her for years. She finds something within each student to form a bond. It’s this type of love, dedication, and effort for her kids and their futures that will stick out and will make her be remembered as one of the best educators of her time.”

Nolfo earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Wayne State University. She has been an educator for 36 years, all with the Macomb Intermediate School District.

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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