The award winner, Kim McClain, is a fourth-grade teacher with Schoolcraft Elementary. Schoolcraft Elementary is part of the Waterford 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 McClain will air this evening.
McClain said taking a job outside of education helped her realize that being an educator is where she is meant to be.
“When I first graduated from college, I worked at an advertising agency. It didn’t take me long to realize that career would never really make me happy. I used to work at a summer camp in Port Huron and loved it there. I loved working with the kids and had a lot of fun. Taking a job outside of education first has really helped me to appreciate how lucky I am to do what I do.
“Kids are fun, and they are honest. I feel that I am the best version of myself when I am around my students. I am very lucky to have this job and the opportunity to help my students is what keeps me going.”
McClain said reading aloud with her students is her favorite part of her day.
“Read aloud is my favorite time of the day. The kids are captivated by a good book. It allows us the time to really dive into a meaningful story and it gives kids access to texts that they may not be ready to read on their own yet. It is the most engaging time of the day. We all look forward to hearing what will happen next and how the characters will handle their struggles. It is a good time to have class discussions and relate stories to our own lives.”
The parent of a former student nominated McClain for the award. The nomination cited her ability to navigate through a challenging school year with patience and grace.
“Mrs. McClain was nothing short of excellent this past school year. She virtually taught a classroom of kids from all over our district during the pandemic. She was the reading room resource teacher until she stepped up and took on teaching a third-grade classroom because two other teachers had left. She did her best to help each and every child in her care and was more hands on than any other teacher. She had never taught virtually, but you would have never known.
“My child was able to excel in all areas despite being on the other side of a computer screen. I cannot thank her enough for navigating these tough times with such grace and patience. She will always hold a special place in my heart.”
McClain earned a bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate, and a master’s degree all from Oakland University. She has been an educator for 18 years, all with the Waterford School District.
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.