An Ionia County educator known for sharing his infectious love of literature and language with students has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Keith Kadwell, is a high school teacher with Lakewood High School. The school is part of the Lakewood 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 Kadwell will air this evening.
Kadwell credits his love for literature and writing for drawing him to a career in education.
“I loved literature and writing in school. I did my teacher assisting at a middle school in Grand Rapids that was completely different from the school I had attended. Columbine happened while I was doing my internship. The resilience of the students and the desire for learning had me hooked.”
A colleague nominated Kadwell for the award. The nomination cited his selflessness and belief in his students.
“As English Department Chair of Lakewood High School in Lake Odessa, Keith has shared his infectious love of literature and language to nurture the individual gifts of thousands of students, prompting them to talk about big ideas, inspiring them to thrive academically, and encouraging them to dream without limits. Keith finds creative ways to enrich his students’ lives and achieve higher levels of academic excellence through ideas such as “The Ideal Bookshelf,” an art-based project where students apply to canvas the literary works that have spoken to them throughout their lives. He has also turned the traditional essay on its head, transforming it from a rote book report into an epic art project that students embrace with gusto, creating papier-mache and decoupage masterpieces that breathe modern-day life into classic works like The Scarlet Letter and Hamlet. The results adorn his classroom and instill pride in their creators. He revitalized Lakewood’s Literary Competition founded by former Lakewood High School teacher Mary Roessler. The annual competition acknowledges and celebrates students’ creativity across short fiction, narrative essay, and poetry, culminating in an awards banquet to honor their literary works of art. Most recently, Keith launched a podcast called the Lakewood Stu, where students collaborate on interviews and explore meaningful topics, while building broadcasting experience, quick thinking, and communication skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. With all that, perhaps what is most remarkable about Keith is the uniquely human way he connects with his students. Affectionately known as “Kaddy” or “Special K,” Keith is a gentle soul whose quiet strength, unassuming demeanor and understated—yet riotously funny—sense of humor disarms and endears. His students secretly love it when he geeks out on Shakespeare, and they know better than to get him started on misplaced modifiers, dangling participles and split infinitives. Rarely a week goes by when a former student doesn’t reach out to Keith to thank him for having a lasting impact on their life, ask to shadow his class as they pursue their own teaching degree, or just reconnect. His selflessness and steadfast belief in their endless possibilities that makes Keith an educator to celebrate.”
Kadwell earned a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University. He has been an educator for 23 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.