An Oakland County educator known for his meticulous preparation and keeping students engaged has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Steven Book, is a high school teacher with Stoney Creek High School. The school is part of the Rochester Community Schools school district.
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 Book will air this evening.
Book credits his fifth-grade teacher for drawing him to a career in education.
“I walked into Mr. Steve Filarecki’s 5th Grade classroom and was greeted by classroom walls filled with a life-size cutout of Michael Jordan, curious quotes from books that I had never heard of, Detroit Tigers memorabilia, and an eclectic array of knickknacks that covered the monotonous white brick walls. On the first day of fifth grade, I met the first male teacher that I had ever had, and it opened the door to career opportunities that I had never realized I could pursue. Mr. Filarecki was a true storyteller in all that he did, his lessons came to life through competitions like Spelling Baseball, math problem races against each other and the clock, and he would take the time to passionately read to us, while pacing around the room, books that I still consider to be some of my all-time favorites.”
Book says engaging students with a “Weekend Update” activity and seeing his students allow themselves to become vulnerable are his favorite parts of being an educator.
“I love “Show and Tell” and so in each of my electives we kick off every week with “Weekend Update” where every student is given the opportunity to tell us stories from the weekend. This is so simple but so important in establishing a classroom culture where every single student in my class is actively engaged in the stories that their colleagues are telling. In my AP classes, I love active lecturing which is storytelling with a purpose. These are lessons lead by me with assists from film clips, TV clips, podcast clips, and song clips, all interwoven with questions for my students. In my Theatre classes my students are playing improv games each and every day and it is impossible for me to sit on the sidelines and just watch them. I like to be where the action is!
“Seeing my students allow themselves to become vulnerable is another one of my favorite things and is extremely valuable to me. Since the COVID-19 shutdown, my students have put up so many defenses and it is truly my biggest joy to watch those defenses crumble and to see young people put themselves out there, take risks, and to be open to failure in order to learn from those failures.”
Book says he hopes his students remember him as a teacher they had a real relationship with.
“When my students leave my classroom, I hope they leave feeling like they mattered. I hope they feel like they had a real relationship with me and that they felt the room I created for them in my heart. I also hope they feel they were given space to make mistakes, fail, and learn from those mistakes in order to grow.”
Book’s nomination cited his involvement in many things at the school.
“Mr. Book is an excellent teacher who cares about every student. He is meticulous in preparing classes and being sure to find ways to keep students engaged. He not only thrives on being a great teacher, but also is the director of Stoney Creek’s musical each spring for the last 11 years. He works hard in finding amazing talent and turning them into stars. Last year he took on the play Little Mermaid and it was spectacular. He also coaches the girls’ basketball team. He never stops working with the kids to make them feel important!”
Book earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Michigan State University. He has been an educator for 12 years, all in his 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.