An Alpena County educator known for her dedication and leadership has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Abbie Kowalski, is a Kindergarten teacher at Wilson Elementary. The school is part of Alpena 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 Kowalski will air this evening.
Kowalski said her parents and her love for working with kids led her to a career in education.
“I grew up with parents who placed an extremely high value on education. During my elementary years, my mom worked as a teacher, and later an administrator, at the school I attended. Watching her love for teaching helped mine to grow. I also have always loved working with kids. There is so much that they can learn from us, but we can also learn so much from them.”
Kowalski’s favorite activity to do with students is games where the students can work together to solve problems.
“We love playing games that allow the students to work together as a team to solve problems. My students also love playing snowball math, where they get to solve math problems and if they get them right, they crumple them into ‘snowballs’ to use during our classroom ‘snowball fights’”.
Kowalski’s nomination cited her dedication to her students and her leadership within the school.
“Abbie is an amazing kindergarten teacher. She thinks of her students as individuals and works hard to support all their needs. From creating an actual Polar Express, to having an ABC fashion show, Abbie puts her heart into teaching. She spends hours coming up with fun and beneficial ways to help her students be successful. She also is a great leader at her school. She helps create amazing activities for the students and families of the school. She is a very loved teacher and parents are excited when their students are in her class.”
Kowalski earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. She has been an educator for 4 years, all 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.