Eaton County Educator Wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

Jill Ford and school facility dog - AlfieAn Eaton County educator known for engaging with her students and encouraging personal growth has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Jill Ford, is a fourth-grade teacher at Willow Ridge Elementary. The school is part of Grand Ledge 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 Ford will air this evening.

Ford credits her father and the appreciation his students showed for drawing her to a career in education.

“I have always enjoyed working with children. My father was a teacher, and I was always inspired when his students would come back years later to see him and show appreciation for all he did.”

Ford says using games to teach her students math are some of her favorite activities to do with students.

“The students in my class love learning math through playing games. We use to compete with multiplication facts that the students really enjoy and it’s wonderful to see them engage with each other during the competition.”

Ford’s husband nominated her for the award. The nomination cited her willingness to take on additional responsibility to benefit all students.

“Jill Ford is a seasoned educator who has consistently demonstrated teaching that engages her fourth-grade students to move forward with a growth mindset as well actual improvement with grades. Jill has gone over and above the call of duty by taking on the responsibility of the Willow Ridge Elementary school facility dog – Alfie. Alfie is used in all grades at the school has a significant impact on special needs students especially an autistic student in her class. Jill cares for Alfie evenings and weekends and oversees Alfie’s schedule with other teachers. Jill is a standout leader in her school by providing wisdom and stability for new teachers as well as be mentor teacher for college students who are training for a career in education.  She is highly respected and trusted at Willow Ridge.”

Ford earned a bachelor’s degree from the Moody Bible Institute and an Elementary Education degree from Arizona State University. She has been an educator for 13 years, nine 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.
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