A Livingston County educator known for inspiring his students has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Joshua Etheridge, teaches high school art at Hartland High School. The school is part of the Hartland Consolidated 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 $2,000 cash prize. At the end of the school year, one of the weekly award winners will be selected to receive the Lottery’s Educator of the Year award 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, WNEM-TV in Saginaw, and WWTV-TV in Traverse City. The news segment featuring Etheridge will air this evening.
Etheridge says his experience as a student led him to a career in education.
“I was a non-traditional student, and struggled to fit in. In most cases, I had no one to talk to in school. I vowed that I would become a teacher that would not only be there for students academically, but personally as well. Personal connections make all the difference in the world when it comes to a students’ development.”
Etheridge says he enjoys collaborative assignments that get his students excited.
“We recently completed multiple painting projects as a class. One of them, made by my nominator, Breanna Zaborowski, is installed at the football field. Each year we also take a field trip and stage a professional photo shoot. Seeing the students’ creativity come to life as we work on these projects together is truly amazing!”
Etheridge was nominated for the award by a former student.
“My art teacher, Mr. Etheridge, has impacted me through inspiring and guiding my journey in the arts. He puts time, effort, money, and hard work into seeing me succeed in and out of the classroom, especially in the art world. Not just me, but all his art students continue to benefit from his mentorship and support. When starting every new art project, he spends at least ten minutes with each art student to critique or brainstorm ideas, showing lots of patience and expressing compassion. Everyone gets one on one time with him, receiving his undivided attention and focus as if they are the only one in class. He uses some of his own money for supplies to help student’s pay for their artwork at times. He even takes notes from discussions with each student and then goes to the store and purchases the materials discussed.
“When high school began, I took various art classes like drawing, jewelry, and pottery the first three years navigating my way through the different mediums. It wasn’t until my last year that I met Mr. Etheridge who showed me I didn’t have to pilot the art world alone. I am so lucky to have an art teacher like Mr. Etheridge in my senior year. He continues to impress and inspire me, especially after battling cancer during Covid and coming back to teaching stronger than ever. He changed the way I look at my future and has given me hope that I can make it as a creative thinker. I wish he could join me on my collegiate art journey, but knowing him, he will just be one phone call away.”
Etheridge earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Concordia University. He has been an educator for 21 years, the last three with Hartland High School.
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.