An Ingham County educator known for creating a caring and engaging classroom environment has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Denise Schaffer, is an elementary teacher at Wilcox Elementary. The school is part of Holt 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 Schaffer will air this evening.
Schaffer says the opportunity to provide children with a solid foundation led her to a career in education.
“I made a mid-life career decision to become a teacher because I loved the idea of providing children with a foundation on which to build everything for the rest of their lives. That is still what motivates me today.”
Schaffer says finding ways to be creative across her curriculum is something she enjoys doing with students.
“This year, we are studying the Middle Ages, dinosaurs, and ancient Egypt. Finding ways to be creative and connect with students is something that I enjoy. We find ways to be creative together, whether that is singing a song or a special project, it helps the content come to life.”
A family member nominated Schaffer for the award. The nomination cited the classroom environment she creates for her students.
“Denise Schaffer is an 18-year veteran lower elementary educator who truly goes above and beyond. She is caring, compassionate, and engaging for all levels of students. Her happiest times are in her classroom world enjoying her students learning new skills and encouraging them to think, engage and work together on a classroom community. She is always challenging her students to explore and grow using Michigan history, zoo trips, geology, and thousands of age-appropriate reading materials to support her mission. She is a true original and a wonderful friend to her kids!”
Schaffer earned a bachelor’s degree from Albion College. She has been an educator for 18 years, all 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.