An Emmet County educator known for transforming her physical education class into a class that provides students lifelong skills has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Kristie Holzschu, is an elementary physical education teacher with Harbor Springs 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 Holzschu will air this evening.
Holzschu credits teachers she had in school for her interest in a career in education.
“I had a couple of teachers who really stood out to me as people that I wanted to be like when I grew up. They took the time to make a connection but also pushed us hard to make us the best that we could be. I wanted to be able to make an impact on students, too.”
Holzschu’s says seeing the excitement of a new accomplishment on her students’ faces makes all of her hard work worth it.
“I am fortunate to be able to do so many cool things with my students. During COVID, we had to get creative and borrowed 30 pedal bikes to work on pedaling skills and learn more about bicycle safety, which will be a lifelong skill for my students. It is also great to see everyone come together for our field day. The most heartwarming thing I get to see is the look of accomplishment on my students’ faces when they finish the triathlon as a three-event triathlete. The kids who have never completed the entire triathlon on their own have such an amazing feeling of accomplishment and excitement. It makes all the work and stress worth it.”
A family member nominated her for the award. The nomination cited her engaging teaching style and transformation of the physical education program in Harbor Springs.
“Ms. Holzschu has turned the elementary physical education program from a roll out the hall and play program to something that teaches kids a variety of lifelong skills. She works hard to provide a variety of different activities as well as culminating events. She has taken kids biking, kayaking, cross-country and downhill skiing. Third through fifth grade students participate in a triathlon. The kids are constantly being challenged and engaged in new learning opportunities.”
Holzschu earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree from Grand Valley State University. She has been an educator for 19 years, including seven 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.