LANSING, Mich., March 22, 2016 – A Grand Traverse County educator known for her extra efforts to find ways to help each student succeed and for taking on leadership roles at her school has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.
The award winner, Julie Merchant, teaches second grade at Fife Lake Elementary School in Fife Lake. The school is part of the Forest Area Community Schools district.
The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education award program in 2014 to recognize outstanding public school educators across the state during the school year.
Winners of the weekly award receive a plaque, a $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.
Merchant said her favorite parts of being an educator are that “each day is different and each class and each student teaches me so much about myself and how to be a better teacher. I look for new ways to reach each student’s academic and emotional needs. Seeing students develop a love of learning brings me joy.”
She said she was attracted to a career in education because “I wanted to share my passion for learning with others and make a positive impact for the students who just need someone to find a strategy, a tool or method that would inspire them to give their ‘all’ in the classroom.”
Merchant said her students motivate her to do her best each day. “It’s watching a student who has been struggling with something finally figure it out. When they finally realize they can take risks and make mistakes and learn from them.”
Merchant has been an educator for 16 years, all with the Forest Area Community Schools district and the last 11 in her current position at Fife Lake Elementary. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and elementary education from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree from Marygrove College.