A Huron County educator known for stepping up to meet the needs of her school district has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Whitney Holdwick, is a middle school English teacher with Harbor Beach Community 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 Holdwick will air this evening.
Holdwick says her love of children led her to a career as an educator.
“From an early age I loved spending time with children. My parents were both educators, so it seemed like a natural fit. While this is a tough profession to be in, I am so happy and honored to be able to teach our youth; they keep me coming back. How many other people get to say that they positively impact lives every day?”
Holdwick says one of her favorite things to do with students is a check-in circle activity.
“One of my favorite activities that we do is a check-in circle, which has a social-emotional learning foundation. I ask students questions and they each have opportunities to share answers. Usually, these questions are related to their general well-being and how we are treating each other. As part of the check-in circle, I have students write affirmation cards to two peers and then read them aloud. The impact of the affirmations is tremendous, and I love to sit back and watch students’ faces light up as they listen to someone complimenting them.”
Holdwick’s former superintendent nominated her for the award. The nomination cited her willingness to be flexible to meet the district’s needs and help students succeed.
“Mrs. Holdwick has stepped up time and again to take on whatever role the district needed. Changing grade levels and classrooms numerous times in the past 12 years. This year, she is moving to middle school as that’s what the district needs. Mrs. Holdwick has coached girls’ basketball and Girls on the Run even though she has three young children at home. The needs of the students are always a very high priority for her. Juggling online and in-person classes, she never faltered. Mrs. Holdwick takes advantage of PLC Training so she has the skills to meet students’ needs. Mrs. Holdwick has high expectations for all her students and works tirelessly with them to ensure success.”
Holdwick earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University. She has been an educator for 13 years, all with Harbor Beach Community Public Schools.
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.