A Macomb County educator known for providing a safe learning environment for his students has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Travis Chesser, is a seventh-grade social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School. The school is part of Lake Shore 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 Chesser will air this evening.
Chesser says a love of history and former teacher led him to a career in education.
“My initial desire to become a teacher was based on my love of history. I had an amazing high school history teacher, Mr. Barsuhn, who made me a huge fan of ancient history. In addition, I had been doing community theater since I was 10 years old, and I loved performing. As a teacher, I love sharing my enthusiasm for ancient history with my students. Being able to talk about history all day can be a fun way to spend your day at work.”
Chesser says doing role-play games to bring lessons to life are some of his favorite activities.
“I like to do role playing when I have a chance. For example, I have a Silk Road trading game that we play in the media center. Students take on the roles of traders in various locations and they travel and try to gain enough resources. When I teach India’s caste system, I divide the students into different castes for a few days. Then, as we learn about Hinduism, the students are given random good or bad karma and they are reborn in new lives, in different castes depending upon their karma.”
Chesser was nominated by a colleague. The nomination cited his dedication to his students and the support he provides to them.
“A dedicated public-school educator for more than 16 years, Mr. Chesser goes above and beyond daily providing a safe, enriching learning experience for all his students. He teaches seventh-grade Ancient World History which he makes come alive for his students. So much so that his students can’t get enough of him. On a daily basis, they seek him out both before and after school. They know that he is a trusted adult that will be supportive and there for a laugh and encouragement. In addition, Mr. Chesser is the sponsor of the school Spelling Bee. Since taking over this program three years ago, he has sent two building winners to the County Bee. One of these participants won the County Bee and went on to Nationals in Washington D.C. This was due in part to Mr. Chesser spending his own time and resources before and after school to prepare these students for the competition.”
Chesser earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree from Concordia University. He has been an educator for 16 years, the last 12 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.