The award winner, Kristie Clark, is an elementary school counselor at Floyd Elementary. The school is part of the Bullock Creek 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 Clark will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Clark said she always dreamed of being an educator and working with children.
“I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. I would ask my elementary school teachers for teaching tools that they wanted to donate to my ‘classroom’ and spent many hours playing school in my basement. After completing my first year of teaching, it was time to choose a master’s program. My mom really encouraged me to begin the counseling program since I had experienced the benefits of counseling when I was younger.”
She said watching her students grow academically and socially are her favorite parts of being an educator.
“My favorite parts are watching kids grow academically and socially over the course of their elementary school years. I’m lucky to work with a very talented staff that knows forming positive relationships with students is number one before tackling academics. We have a positive school culture and it is because we all work together proactively.”
A colleague nominated Clark for the award. The nomination cited her love and unselfish dedication to the school and district.
“Kristie cares deeply for all of our students. Her love and unselfish dedication are amazing! She strives to address the emotional and mental health of the students first and foremost, but she knows the importance of addressing academic and physiological needs as well. For example, if a student’s family is struggling financially to put food on the table, she knows how that can affect the student’s ability to pay attention in class, so she works with the family to meet that need.
“She continually challenges herself by learning more about the current trends in education, ways to help our parents, and better approaches to teaching social-emotional learning. In turn, she frequently shares her new knowledge by training our teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and parents. Kristie believes in the importance of family and for our parents to have strong parenting skills. Knowing that the relationship between a parent and child has a major impact on a child’s development, Kristie wants to work on helping parents learn the skills needed to be the best that they can be. She has been certified as a Love and Logic Trainer, and she shares the Love and Logic training with our parents. She has written and received multiple grants to provide these trainings for our parents free of cost, including meals and childcare so that families are encouraged to attend.
“Kristie’s efforts did not stop during the multiple quarantines due to COVID-19. She continued to work hard to reach our students. She provided virtual groups, classroom lessons, and individual meetings for our students in an effort to keep the learning going and the connection between student and school strong. Kristie creates informative and fun lessons to teach specific life skills. She shares these lessons on everything from body safety to kindness in the classrooms.”
Clark earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Central Michigan University. She has been an educator for 22 years, all with the Bullock Creek Schools.
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.