A Mecosta County educator known for shaping young people to be their best has been honored with an Excellence In Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, T.J. Klein, teaches high school math at Big Rapids High School. The school is part of Big Rapids 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 $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 Klein will air this evening.
Klein says wanting to be a positive role model to students is what led him to a career in education.
“I wanted to be a positive role model for students and help them establish usable tactics for life. Teaching is very rewarding and the impact you get to make on students lasts forever.”
Klein says his favorite activities to do with students are playing math baseball and whiteboard activities.
“Playing math baseball for a test review is my favorite thing to do with my students. I also enjoy doing whiteboard activities.”
Klein was nominated for the award by a student.
“If you ask any student at Big Rapids High School, they will tell you that Coach Klein is simply the best. T.J. teaches math but has other great ways he teaches students too. Last year, he coached JV tennis and has been an assistant hockey coach for many years. Through coaching, he has connected with many students. He builds them up, encourages them, and helps them through the struggles high school can bring.
“You will rarely find T.J. alone. He comes in early in the morning to help students who need extra help. At lunch, you will find T.J. with kids in his classroom playing ping pong or just hanging out. He is patient, kind, selfless, and compassionate, while still holding his students accountable. He is not only concerned about his students’ academics but shaping young people to be their best.”
Klein earned a bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University and a master’s degree from Western Governors University. He has been an educator for eight years, all 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.