East Lansing Educator Wins 2023 Educator of the Year Award and $10,000 Prize from the Michigan Lottery’s Excellence in Education Program

2023 Educator of the Year Kathryn Kluzak (left) and Lottery Commissioner Brian O. Neill (right)An East Lansing educator has won the 2023 Educator of the Year award and a $10,000 prize from the Michigan Lottery’s Excellence In Education program.

The award winner, Kathryn Kluzak, is a kindergarten teacher at Robert L. Green Elementary. The school is part of East Lansing Public Schools.

Kluzak has been an educator for nine years, the last seven with East Lansing Public Schools. Kluzak says a volunteer opportunity in high school made her pursue a career in education.

“When I was in high school, I had the opportunity to volunteer in my former elementary school. I always enjoyed working with younger students. I was very fortunate to have many teachers and family members who shaped my love of education and I wanted to share that love through a career as an educator.

“I am honored to be named the Michigan Lottery’s 2023 Educator of the Year. Sharing my love of learning with my students each day is incredibly rewarding, and I aspire to provide my students with meaningful learning opportunities and to continue being present for them each day.”

“Congratulations to Mrs. Kluzak from Robert L. Green Elementary,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “In addition to providing her students with a loving, safe space to learn, Mrs. Kluzak also takes time to serve as mentor to fellow staff members. Providing support and helping new educators flourish is incredibly important to ensuring our children have positive role models and strong teachers in classrooms throughout Michigan. Mrs. Kluzak is an exceptional example of Michigan’s extraordinary educators, and I am so grateful to her, and all our teachers who go above and beyond for our children.”

Lottery Commissioner, Brian O. Neill, recently presented Kluzak with the award.

“Mrs. Kluzak’s positive impact on the lives of so many children was evident during our award presentation at Robert L. Green Elementary,” said Commissioner Neill. “Her hard work, and the work of educators across Michigan, is critical to ensuring all children have the tools they need to grow and succeed. I am extremely pleased to name Kathryn Kluzak the Michigan Lottery Educator of the Year.”

“Mrs. Kluzak is an exceptional teacher and valued member of the team at Robert L. Green Elementary,” said Dori Leyko, East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent. “Her leadership in the building sets a positive example for her students, and her role as a mentor provides critical support to her colleagues. We are so proud to have Mrs. Kluzak recognized as the Michigan Lottery’s Educator of the Year.”

Kluzak was nominated by her colleague and co-teacher, Madison Brosky. The nomination cited her dedication to her students and her willingness to help student teachers and colleagues succeed.

“Kathryn has been our school’s special education teacher, a mentor to three student teachers, and is now a kindergarten teacher. I have been lucky enough to be Kathryn’s first student teacher and now colleague. During my first year, she went above and beyond to help me and other staff outside of her job description. She started a learning lab for her caseload students during COVID and last summer she helped the new special education teacher prepare for her first school year, all while trying to prepare for her own transition to kindergarten. I am so blessed to have Kathryn as my team teacher because she is so knowledgeable and has taught me so much in our time together.”

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. 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.

Each year, one of the weekly winners is selected as the Educator of the Year and receives a $10,000 prize.

Hundreds of educators from across the state were nominated for an Excellence In Education weekly award during the ninth year of the program and 34, including Kluzak, were selected to win a weekly award.

Previous winners of the Educator of the Year award were:

2022 – Spencer Vanderheide, a high school teacher with Kenowa Hills High School.

2021 – Janice Smith, a school social worker at Fisher Magnet Lower Academy in Detroit.

2020 – Megan Sidge, an Autism Spectrum Disorder teacher at Hickory Woods Elementary in Walled Lake.

2019 – Stewart Kieliszewski, an Earth science, biology, mechatronics, and media teacher for eighth through 12 graders at the Ubly Community Schools.

2018 – Kerri Moccio, a first-grade literacy intervention specialist at Bedford Elementary School in Dearborn Heights.

2017 – Linda Holzwarth, a social studies teacher at Portage West Middle School in Portage.

2016 – Daniel Carr, a Spanish and sports marketing teacher at Waverly High School in Lansing.

2015 – Michael Craig, a special education teacher at the Charles Drew Transition Center in Detroit.

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.
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