Jason Applegate (source: Michigan Lottery)

A Saginaw County educator known for creating a culture of inclusion and excellence for his students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery. Jason Applegate teaches theater at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, and said the opportunity to change young lives led him to a career in education.

“I was attracted to education because of the opportunity to change young lives. Whether it’s helping a student understand their character’s motivation or understand more about themselves and who they want to become as young adults, there is nothing like knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life.”

He said his favorite activities to do with his students are ones that focus on social and emotional well-being.

“Starting last year and carrying into this year, my students and I have really focused on social and emotional well-being. We celebrate Affirmation Day by writing positive messages on the glass doors and sidewalks, handing out name tags with positive labels, and posting sticky notes with uplifting statements on students’ lockers. We also have a social emotional board where students can check in every day with how they are feeling currently, and they can share why if they choose.”

Applegate’s wife nominated him for the award. Winners receive a plaque, a $1,500 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. Winners are also featured in a television news segments around the state.

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

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.