A Kalamazoo County educator known for being a mentor to students and colleagues has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Chris Furlong, is a high school health teacher at Portage Northern High School. The school is part of Portage 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 Furlong will air this evening.
Furlong says teachers he had in school led him to pursue a career in education.
“I had several teachers in my past that did so much for me to impact my growth and I wanted to do the same for others and give back to the community. It is the students and the relationships I build with them that keeps me going.”
Furlong says building relationships outside of class time is one of his favorite parts of teaching.
“I play Rock, Paper, Scissors with my kids before class, I like playing music before my classes start, or doing a quick pop quiz to get kids engaged. All of these things break down barriers between me as the teacher and my students and help us build a relationship and fun learning environment.”
A colleague nominated Furlong for the award. The nomination cited his willingness to go above and beyond for his students, athletes, and colleagues.
“Chris is not only a teacher, but a coach and a mentor to all the kids and fellow staff and teachers. He goes above and beyond daily to make sure those that need something, big or small, are taken care of. Chris having no children of his own, makes it a priority for every athlete and student he encounters to feel welcomed, engaged and taken care of mentally, physically, and socially.”
Furlong earned a bachelor’s degree from Olivet College. He has been an educator for 15 years, the last 10 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.