After years of hard work and commitment, 47 high school seniors in Marquette and Alger counties will be recognized for their academic achievement and receive scholarships of $1,500 at the 29th annual Excellence in Education Week (EEW) awards program April 25.
“Since Excellence in Education Week began in 1994, we’ve been fortunate to partner with schools, businesses, foundations and individual citizens in Marquette and Alger counties to recognize students, their families and their teachers for the culmination of their hard work together,” said Grow & Lead: Community and Youth Development CEO Amy Quinn.
Students receiving scholarships represent the top academically-achieving five percent of graduating seniors. In addition, 25 professional development awards will be presented to Marquette and Alger county educators.
Tessa Standerford, daughter of Chris and Abby Standerford, is the recipient of the TruNorth Federal Credit Union Scholarship. After graduating from Negaunee High School, Standerford plans to attend Northern Michigan University to double-major in environmental science and sustainable business and enterprise creation. She aspires to a career that includes environmental research and travel opportunities.
At the EEW program, students are joined by the educator who was most influential in their education. Standerford chose Bill Ellerbruch, high school calculus and physics teacher, as her most influential educator.
“He always encouraged me to ask questions, whether they relate to class content or not, and allows for friendly debate, all while teaching problem solving and perseverance,” Standerford said of Ellerbruch.
Ethan Phillipson, son of Emmett Phillipson and the late Rabecca Phillipson, receives the Peoples State Bank Scholarship. Phillipson, who attends Superior Central High School, plans to pursue a civil engineering degree at Michigan Technological University, then become a construction manager and work on community improvement projects.
Phillipson chose high school English teacher Shannon Hancock as his most influential educator.
“She has been my personal favorite teacher to work with, striking a balance between thoroughly funny and strict,” Phillipson said of Hancock. “She has also been the teacher of several less-desired classes and made them enjoyable and understandable, making me a better writer and student overall.”
The professional development awards given to educators at the program are another important part of EEW. Educators use the awards to further their education or to enhance classroom activities.
NICE Community Schools special education teacher Lisa Ruby receives the Professional Development Award in Honor of Louis and Joan Myefski. Ruby will use the funds to become a certified instructor of Yoga Calm, a trauma-informed program that helps students reduce stress, develop self-control, attention, fitness and social/emotional skills. She hopes to see the program impact all students at Aspen Ridge School as they grow into adults.
Burt Township School English teacher Dixie McCormick receives the Fred W. and June M. Schaefer Professional Development Award. McCormick, along with science teacher Gordon Tester, will use the award to purchase LED stage lights for performing arts activities, which will allow students to learn modern skills in stage lighting.
The Judy Watson Olson Education Enrichment Award, was created to honor former Grow & Lead president, Judy Watson Olson. The annual $500 award assists Upper Peninsula schools, teachers or organizations with programs that help youth succeed. This year’s recipient is Holly Eimiller, fifth grade teacher at Rudyard Elementary School. Eimiller will use the funds to purchase dictionaries, books for small-group novel studies and supplies for “book tastings,” in which the classroom is set up like a restaurant with different genres of books on the “menu” for each student to sample.
Since its inception, approximately $2.6 million has been awarded through EEW academic scholarships and professional development awards to 1,386 students and 721 educators.
The awards program is just the beginning of the Excellence in Education Week. Local school districts will recognize hundreds of outstanding middle and high school students and teachers through celebrations during the week and later this spring.
“Presenting” sponsors for this year’s event are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Eagle Mine.
“Student Academic Achievement and Influential Educator” sponsors are Anderson, Tackman & Company, PLC; Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.; Honor Credit Union; Kendricks, Bordeau, Keefe, Seavoy & Reilly, P.C.; Michigan Education Association & MESSA, NMU, PotlatchDeltic Corporation; SEMCO ENERGY Gas Company; The Mining Journal; UP Health System – Marquette; and Upper Peninsula Health Plan.
“Educator Professional Development” sponsors are: Bell Financial and Timber Products Michigan.
“Excellence in Education” sponsors are: Alger Regional Community Foundation; Casa Calabria; Cheryl Jackson RE/MAX 1st Realty; Community Foundation of Marquette County; Peoples State Bank of Munising; Range Bank; Upper Peninsula Power Company and VAST.
“Support from our schools, businesses and communities makes the EEW program a very special event,” Quinn said. “It makes you appreciate just how much people care about the education of our young people in Marquette and Alger counties.”