A Huron County teacher has won the 2019 Educator of the Year award and a $10,000 prize from the Michigan Lottery’s Excellence in Education program, the Lottery announced Thursday.
The award winner, Stewart Kieliszewski, teaches Earth science, biology, mechatronics, and media for eighth through 12 graders at the Ubly Community Schools. He also coaches track.
Kieliszewski is known for working tirelessly to provide students with fun, hands-on learning experiences, such as two successful robotics programs and raising funds to buy a 3D printer for technology-related experiments.
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 plaque, a $1,500 cash prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or school district. 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, and WNEM-TV in Saginaw.
Each year, one of the weekly winners is selected as the Educator of the Year and receives a $10,000 prize.
The Michigan Lottery presented Kieliszewski with the award Wednesday night at the Ubly schools honors assembly.
“I’m just awestruck. I can’t believe out of all the teachers in Michigan that I was selected for this award. It’s a great honor. I’m about six feet tall, but walking out of here tonight, I’m going to feel like I’m eight feet tall,” Kieliszewski said.
“I think that I’m going to get a lot more invitations to graduation parties this year,” he quipped as he accepted the $10,000 prize in front a cheering crowd of students, parents, and other educators.
The principal of the Ubly High School and Ubly Junior High School, Jeremy Warner, said Kieliszewski deserved the reward to recognize his performance as an educator for nearly three decades.
“He has built the robotics and mechatronics programs from scratch in our school, continues to coach athletics, and is a highly effective teacher. It seems that one person wouldn’t be able to accomplish all these things, but Stew is always at the school working with students and parents. It is very common for him to be here into the late hours of the night, on weekends, and even snow days!” Warner said.
“He continually pushes the students to do their best while supporting them and building a great rapport with them.”
More than 500 educators from across the state were nominated for an Excellence in Education weekly award during the fifth year of the program and 34, including Kieliszewski, were selected to win a weekly award.
Previous winners of the Educator of the Year award were:
- 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.
Kieliszewski said that his favorite part of being an educator is “working with young people and being around all the energy that they have. My days are never the same. Each day brings new experiences and challenges.”
He said that his students motivate him to do his best every day. “I feel it’s my duty to provide as many educational experiences as possible for my students. Although our school is in a rural area, I feel it’s important to provide my students the same experiences that get in larger schools.”
The father of two former students and a volunteer for the Ubly FIRST Robotics team nominated Kieliszewski for the Excellence in Education award, saying Kieliszewski “is a person who is meant to be a teacher. He has a sense of wonderment and enthusiasm for learning that excites and motivates the students. He talks to the students as people, not as kids that know less than him. Walking down the school hallways, he is continually greeted by students with smiles on their faces. He has been voted ‘Teacher of the Year’ by the Ubly High School students many times.
“Even though I have owned businesses for 27 years, working 55 to 60 hours a week, it still astounds me how much energy, enthusiasm and time Stew puts into his students and after school activities.
“Stewart has developed a group of dedicated mentors for the robotics program and all of us look up to him. We all know he will be honest and do the right thing for us and the students. The students know they can trust him. We all also know that he is just a phone call, text, or email away if we need him,” the nomination said.
“Over the past two years, Stew has helped develop a VEX robotics program at Ubly schools. VEX provides kits resembling Erector sets to help introduce younger students to the world of competitive robotics and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts.
“I am also happy to report that Ubly has more girls than boys involved in these programs, partly because of how comfortable they are with Stewart,” he wrote, adding Kieliszewski teaches students practical life skills such as “how to use hand and power tools, measuring with calipers, using voltage testers and multi-meters, soldering, how to do house wiring, and much more.
“A couple of years ago, he applied for and received a grant to purchase a 3D printer for the school. Over the past couple of years, he has bought three nearly identical Craftsman band saws. Two of them had the same non-functioning part, which was no longer available from Sears. Stewart took the good part off of the third one and had his students reproduce it with the 3D printer, showing them how to problem solve with technology.
“I recently stopped by his house, and in his garage he was mounting a toilet on a wooden frame with a tank under it, with a small pump to recirculate water. He planned on teaching ‘Toilet Technology’ to his class! Seriously, how many teachers would think of (or be willing) to do THAT?”
The nomination said that Kieliszewski also teaches a media class. “As part of that, he attends many sporting events, band concerts, school plays and just about every other school activity, helping his students learn how to use the recording and lighting equipment in real-life situations. Plus, he is a substitute bus driver, sometimes driving routes at the last minute, before or after school.
“Stewart is a juggernaut of positive energy that any school would be proud to have.”
Kieliszewski, earned a bachelor of science degree from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Saginaw Valley State University. He has been an educator for 27 years, the last 25 with the Ubly Community Schools.
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.