An Ionia County educator known for her commitment to her students has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Jessica Lafler, is a first-grade teacher at Twin Rivers Elementary. The school is part of Ionia 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 Lafler will air this evening.
Lafler said the teachers she had while in school led her to a career in education.
“My first-grade teacher and all of the teachers I had after that made me want to become a teacher.”
Lafler’s favorite activity to do with students is reading.
“I love teaching my students to read and sharing my favorite books with them. I love reading and responding to their daily journals.”
The nomination for Mrs. Lafler cited the love and commitment she has for her students.
“Mrs. Lafler’s love for her first grade students and her desire for them to be their best is unbelievable. She works 10 to 12 hours every day to prepare for the next day and makes sure every detail is perfect for her students. During Christmas, her annual tradition is for each student to make a Christmas plate for their family using the student’s handprint. She is also very popular among her students and often gets a hi and hug from students when seeing them outside of school.
“Throughout the pandemic, she has always been available in person and virtually to work through any issues students may have. To teach in the district you grew up in is very special, but to excel and succeed in that environment is even better.”
Lafler earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University. She has been an educator for 15 years, the last 8 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.