The award winner, Lisa Younce, is a first-grade teacher at Oakman Elementary School. The school is part of Dearborn 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 Younce will air this evening.
Younce said making connections with her students and watching them grow is what drew her to a career as an educator.
“I love making a lifelong connection with my students and their families. I enjoy watching my students grow and do my best to keep up with them throughout their educational career. Seeing a student who was shy or nervous or had difficulty in a subject grow and show their confidence drives me to keep teaching! While my students are the overall main reason I am here, having an amazing principal, grade level partner, and colleagues truly makes it easier to show up every day as well.
Younce said reading with her students and teaching mindfulness are some of the most enjoyable parts of being an educator. She also enjoys visiting her students’ homes twice a year as part of the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project.
“I enjoy reading with my students to give them the confidence they need to reach their goals. I really like our class songs to line up, for a new word on our word wall, and phonics songs. During brain breaks, we like to meditate and do yoga. During summer school I taught mindfulness in which we wrote in a daily gratitude journal, practiced yoga, and meditated. I feel this really helped students learn coping skills for the difficult years we’ve had recently.”
A classroom volunteer nominated Younce for the award. The nomination cited her ability to create a space where students felt safe.
“Ms. Younce is a spectacular teacher; she loves all of her students and goes above and beyond what she is asked to do. She teaches her kids kindness and gives them support needed in every setting she is placed in whether it be virtual or in class. Some kids come from another country and have a hard transition, some even lack the English language, and Ms. Younce has taught these kids to understand and speak English and lets them know that her classroom and school are a safe place to learn and talk. These kids love her and she loves them just as much.”
Younce earned degrees from the University of Michigan Dearborn. She has been an educator for six years, all with Oakman Elementary.
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.