Livingston County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

A Livingston County educator known for creating an inclusive environment for students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Elson Liu, is the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum for Howell 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 Liu will air this evening.

Liu said the Telecommunication Act of 1996 led him to a career as an educator.

“In 1996, Congress recognized that every member of society needed access to the newest technologies, including the Internet. In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress placed that burden squarely on the shoulders of public schools. As a graduate student at MIT, I realized that our society’s capacity to survive and thrive in the face of rapid technological change depended on supporting teachers’ and students’ capacity to innovate and adapt.

“We’ve seen the impact on society of modern technology – including the Internet, social media, AI algorithms, and modern medical technology. We’ve seen the importance of our public schools for the basic functioning of our economy. Our students, and the teachers who educate them, are still at the fulcrum of our society’s future.”

Liu said seeing students and community come together is his favorite part of being an educator.

“Each year, the seniors in Howell put together a Senior Survivor fundraiser, and in most years raise $50,000 to $60,000 for a community service project. During the pandemic, they raised $200,000 which was used to build an inclusive playground so that all children could have the same play experience. In times like that, I am so proud of our students and community and the work they do to come together for the betterment of all.”

A colleague nominated Liu for the award. The nomination cited his persistence to be an advocate for inclusive education for all.

“Elson brought LGBTQ+ inclusive mental health curriculum to the board for approval. When the curriculum was tabled, he made a new plan that will be used as a stepping stone toward progress. He has shown that he will not give up in the fight for inclusive education. I’m very grateful that he is a part of our district.”

Liu earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an educator for 25 years, 13 of those with Howell Public Schools.

Outstanding public-school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at 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.
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