An Oakland County educator known for encouraging academic, social, and emotional growth in his students has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Charles Woodham, is a first-grade teacher at Patterson Elementary School. The school is part of Holly Area 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 Woodham will air this evening.
Woodham credits an experience he had in fifth grade with driving him to a career in education
“I can really trace it all back to fifth grade when my teacher, Mrs. Heschler, let us choose our seats on the first day of school. As you can imagine, most of those selections were less than ideal and seating arrangements were quickly changed, but over the course of that school year ours never did. Looking back, it became obvious that each person at our table elevated the next and together we contributed so positively to the classroom community. Even after all these years those memories we shared still feel so fresh and special. I give her so much credit for being in tune with and facilitating that.”
Woodham says his favorite thing to do with his students is reading aloud.
“My absolute favorite thing to do with my students is probably the first thing someone thinks of when they think of an elementary school classroom and that’s having a read aloud. The students are always so interested in the stories as we dive deeper and deeper into the characters’ feelings and the storyline. I always relate to the book, wonder, predict, and think out loud letting the kids feed off this excitement as their gears start turning and they develop their own perspectives. I have put a lot of effort into acquiring games and manipulatives for my classroom. The kids know we all win when games enter the classroom. There is so much learning and laughing going on, they show what they know, strategize, socialize, even if they lose the game they walk away feeling like a winner because they had a blast.”
A colleague and parent of a former student nominated Woodham for the award.
“Charles is truly the most outstanding teacher I’ve ever met. He loves and never gives up on any student. His classroom management is unparalleled, and every student grows so much academically, socially, and emotionally. No student is too challenging for him, in fact the students that are repeatedly struggling with behavior do a complete 180 in his classroom. The crying replaced with laughter and learning. His success can also be measured based on his state test scores, which are outstanding and among the best I’ve seen. Additionally, he is a true role model for all students but especially those struggling financially or from a broken home. His life experience makes him approachable and relatable. My daughter grew so much and cracked out of her shy shell. I saw students who were constantly in the principal’s office turn into leaders for the school.”
Woodham earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Molloy College. He has been an educator for 11 years, three 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.