An Ingham County educator known for being a role model and inspiring kindness in her community has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Suzie Zuke, is a second-grade teacher with Ralya Elementary. The school is part of Haslett 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 Zuke will air this evening.
Zuke said she was drawn to a career in education because of her love of working with young people.
“I have always been drawn to working with children. Even at a young age, I was always babysitting or nannying. That is when I realized that working in education was my calling, not just a job for me. I knew if I didn’t pursue a career in education, I wouldn’t be happy or fulfilled.”
A parent of former students nominated Zuke for the award. The nomination cited the lasting relationships Zuke builds with her students.
“Mrs. Zuke is a community role model and inspires others to be kind and caring citizens. She leads whole school assemblies where she teaches the entire school body about a local person who has made a positive contribution to the community and beyond. She incorporates community into her classroom lessons as well. She has second graders making cards for seniors and friendship stockings for others to spread joy. She celebrates diversity and uses read aloud to help elementary students learn about other cultures.
“Mrs. Zuke goes above and beyond her responsibilities as an elementary teacher and builds lasting relationships with her students. She listens to the students, finds out about their interests and family, and continues that relationship even after the student has moved on. Mrs. Zuke truly creates a classroom team and teaches young students how to be active and kind humans who can make the world a better place for years to come. Two of my sons have had the privilege of being in Mrs. Zuke’s second grade classroom and they both still talk about the amazing things they learned and did.”
Zuke earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Michigan State University. She has been an educator for 20 years, the last 14 in her current position.
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.