A Calhoun County educator known for finding fun and innovative ways to engage students in reading and literature and encouraging their creativity with theatrical activities has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The winner, William Lapham, teaches English, speech, and theatre at Battle Creek Central High School, which is part of the Battle Creek Public Schools.

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 $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.

Each winner also will be featured in a news segment on the Lottery’s media partner stations:  WXYZ-TV in Detroit, FOX 17 in Grand Rapids, and FOX 47 in Lansing. The news segment featuring Lapham will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing and then on Thursday in Detroit.

For the Excellence in Education awards program, the Lottery has teamed up with Michigan State University basketball coach Tom Izzo.  Izzo met recently with Lapham at the Breslin Center and presented him with the award.

Lapham said his favorite part of being an educator are “the light bulb moments, when a student has worked and thought hard and then there’s a ‘Poof!’ when they get it. It doesn’t matter whether it is a personal connection to a character or a book or figuring out how to build something without stripping a screw, those moments are special.”

Lapham has been an educator for 10 years, all with the Battle Creek Public Schools.  He said he was attracted to a career in education because of “an influential theatre teacher at my high school who made a tremendous impact on my life.”

He added that “the kids, the community, the adventure” motivate him to do his best each day.

A colleague nominated Lapham for the Excellence in Education award.  The nomination noted that “he encourages his students to do well in his class by making learning fun in his classroom.  He is not afraid of being somewhat goofy to get his points across and allows students to work on subjects that interest them.”

“Besides being an amazing English teacher, Mr. Lapham goes above and beyond by providing opportunities for our talented students in the areas of drama and forensics.  His drama students put on amazing plays for our school and community. We are the only high school in the area that offers forensics for its students, thanks to Mr. Lapham's dedication and hard work.  We love him and more importantly our students love him!”

Lapham earned two degrees from Western Michigan University:  A bachelor of arts degree in English and education and a master of arts degree in educational technology.

Outstanding public school educators may be nominated for an Excellence in Education award at http://bit.ly/ExcellenceInEducation or through the websites of the Lottery’s media partner stations.

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.