A Macomb County educator known for being an advocate for students has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Stephanie Lange, is a school social worker at Dakota High School. The school is part of the Chippewa Valley School District.
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 Lange will air this evening.
Lange says a surprise request led her to a career in education.
“I was never planning to go into education. I was the clinical director at a small agency in Mount Clemens when I was contacted by the district to assist in creating a new student assistance program for their building. Everything followed from there as I was swept up in the energy of the youth and the challenges I could address in that setting. These youth are amazing and are seeking connection and success in their own ways. They just want to be heard and accepted for who they are, and we can provide that in the public school system in a unique way.”
Lange says it’s important for each student to be recognized as the unique person they are.
“These young people are not tiny adults. They are large children with so much more growing to do. Expectations need to be firm and realistic. A dysregulated brain cannot learn. If a student is heard and validated, they will do better in class. Voice and choice are very important. Students do not want to disappoint their parents or teachers. They want to achieve, and we get to help set the stage for success. One size fits one.”
Lange was nominated by a colleague.
“Stephanie Lange is a Student Assistant Specialist and deeply cares for students. Stephanie started a Stand With Trans group at the high school that was met with such enthusiasm by the students. Their sessions continued during the Pandemic via Zoom and drew students from all over the United States. Stephanie runs summer camps for transgender kids so they have a place where they can be their true selves for a week. Stephanie gives so much of herself to the kids through her dedication to teaching.”
Lange earned a bachelor’s degree from Oakland University and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan. She has been an educator for 24 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.