The award winner, Barb Lowe, is a fourth-grade teacher with Alma Public 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 Lowe will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.
Lowe said she wanted to be a teacher from a young age and followed her passion.
“I always wanted to be a teacher. I would play school with anything I could find. I would teach my stuffed animals, dolls, and little sister. I love to share knowledge with others and help them become the best person they can be. When I graduated from high school, I was told there were no jobs in education, but I continued to follow my passion to become a teacher anyway.”
She said watching her students’ love of learning grow is her favorite part of being an educator.
“My favorite part of being an educator is watching the love of learning blossom in my students. When my students want to learn, want to do their best, and want to reach goals, that is the best part of being a teacher. When the bell rings ending the day and my students don’t want to go home and want to continue learning, that is a very good day.”
A colleague and former student nominated Lowe for the award. The nomination cited her lasting impact on each of her students.
“Barb Lowe isn’t just a regular teacher, she’s a Disney teacher, bringing magic to her classroom every day. She turns pencils into magic wands that are seldom put down. She encourages the kids with a soft voice and kind heart. The influence she has on her students stays with them for years beyond their time in Alma Schools.
“When talking to a former student of Mrs. Lowe’s it is clear that she leaves a lasting impact on the students in her classroom. She provides students with the structure and routine to succeed. Mrs. Lowe was able to address all students’ learning needs in the classroom and made real life connections to whatever content we were learning. Her classroom has always been a place where students feel safe and cared for. It is clear how much time and effort Mrs. Lowe puts into her students.
“She always held high expectations and allowed each student the opportunity to rise to the occasion. We learned every day, and celebrated connections made within the classroom. As a student myself, I struggled with reading and feeling confident in school. Once I was in Mrs. Lowe’s class, I developed a love for learning. So much so that I am now an educator who hopes to instill the same expectations and love for learning in my own students.”
Lowe earned a bachelor’s degree from Alma College. She has been an educator for 34 years, all with the Alma Public 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.