A Gratiot County educator known for his generosity and heart has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Zach Baker, is a math and science teacher with Fulton 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 Baker will air this evening.
Baker says teachers he had in school led him to pursue a career in education.
“Growing up, I had a couple of male teachers who played an important role in my life. They were father figures for me and role models from third through eighth grade. It was such an important time in my life, and they helped me grow so much, I knew I wanted to do the same for others.”
Baker says teaching the sixth-grade shopping unit is one of his favorite things to teach.
“Students have a little concept about money and budgeting much these days, so one of my units takes sixth graders shopping for groceries. They must budget for specific events and people and then determine how many products they will need and how many they can afford. It’s a great experience for them that translates to real-life situations.”
Baker’s significant other nominated him for the award. The nomination cited his passion for being a positive role model for his students.
“Zach Baker is humble, kind, and noble. He will drop anything he is doing to help someone out and if you ask anyone that knows him, they could talk for hours about his generosity and good heart. Zach has a passion for ensuring the kids of today are receiving proper education and direction in life; he will always set his students up for success. Not only does Zach have this passion in the classroom, but he also has it outside of the classroom as well with coaching and tutoring. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and schools closed, Zach was upset he wasn’t able to give his students a proper goodbye. He took time out of his day to drive to each of their houses and give them gift cards for ice cream; acts like this just show how much he cares for his students, and how selfless of a person he is. Zach is a great role model for kids!”
Baker earned a bachelor’s degree from Alma College. He has been an educator for seven 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.