The Michigan Lottery is celebrating 10 years of recognizing outstanding educators with the 2023-24 Excellence in Education awards. During the program’s 10 years, the Michigan Lottery has recognized more than 300 public-school educators across Michigan and highlighted the impact they have in their respective communities.

Nominations are currently open, and parents, students, school staff members, and others are encouraged to nominate outstanding public-school educators for awards. All public-school employees may be nominated for the awards, which recognize educators who go “above and beyond” to make a difference in the lives of children. To nominate a public-school educator, go to

“Public-school educators play a critical role in our students’ lives by serving as role models, offering encouragement and motivation, and teaching critical skills that prepare Michigan’s students for future success,” said Acting Lottery Commissioner, Jessica Weare. “The Lottery’s Excellence in Education awards shine a light on dedicated educators who go above and beyond for their students and inspire them to reach their full potential.”

The Michigan Lottery established the Excellence in Education awards in 2014 to recognize outstanding public-school educators across the state during the school year.

One outstanding educator will be selected each week and will receive a $2,000 cash prize. At the end of the school year, one of these weekly award winners will be selected to receive the Lottery’s Educator of the Year award and will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

Winners of the weekly award are 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 winner of the 2023 Educator of the Year award was Kathryn Kluzak, a kindergarten teacher at Robert L. Green Elementary in East Lansing.

Hundreds of educators were nominated during the 2022-23 school year, which was the ninth year of the Excellence in Education awards program. Thirty-four of these nominees, including Kluzak, were selected to win a weekly award.

Previous winners of the Educator of the Year award:

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

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 should demonstrate the following qualities:

  • 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.