The award winner, Heather Deddeh, is a sixth and seventh grade science teacher at Clifford Smart Middle School. The school is part of the Walled Lake 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 Deddeh will air this evening.
Deddeh said the opportunity to share her love of science led her to a career as an educator.
“What attracted me to a career in education was the opportunity to share my love of science with students with the hope of fueling a curiosity that keeps them interested in the sciences.”
Deddeh said seeing her students grow is her favorite part of being an educator.
“My students are the driving force that keeps me going. They continually inspire and challenge me to be a better teacher. I have been working with middle schoolers for 22 years and I just cannot see myself with any other age group. Middle schoolers have so much energy and at times a bit of attitude, but that is what I find endearing about them. They challenge me to make science relevant and meaningful to them. In return, they give their best effort and I get to see them grow into confident students.”
A colleague nominated Deddeh for the award. The nomination cited her passion for science and the caring environment she creates for her students.
“Heather is a passionate science teacher who is dearly loved by her students and her colleagues. Her classroom is a caring environment where students are excited to learn.
Heather has developed a tremendous number of science lesson planners that she has shared with the teachers around the district. Her lesson planners organize the learning material for the students and give space for the students to record their thoughts, predictions, models, notes, and lesson summaries as they explore. All of her work is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Mi-Star. She allows students to explore concepts and develop their understanding to answer a big question at the end of each unit. As the unit progresses, she guides the learning, through her questions and future explorations. Each lesson is carefully planned to help the students grasp a concept. Each concept unlocks information that will allow the students to address the final big unit question.”
Deddeh earned bachelor’s degrees from Michigan State University and Oakland University and a master’s degree from Marygrove College. She has been an educator for 22 years, all with the Walled Lake 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.