Gillis wins Middle School Teacher of the Year award

EVART — Evart Public Schools is celebrating the accomplishment of teacher Becky Gillis, who received the Middle School Teacher of the Year award by the Michigan Council of Teachers of English.

“I think it’s really humbling because I have so many great co-workers and I know other great English teachers,” Gillis said. “It’s a huge honor and it feels good to be recognized for the hard work that I do.”

Every year, MCTE board members receive a number of recommendation letters from teachers and administrators from across the state. The board reviews each nominee and finalizes the winner by voting. Gillis received a plaque to recognize her achievement at a conference at Michigan State University earlier this month.

Fellow Evart Middle School teacher Crystal Nelson sent a letter for Gillis’ nomination.

“I feel her enthusiasm for teaching middle school has motivated and inspired me to be the best teacher I can be,” said Nelson in her letter of recommendation. “She was instrumental in helping me transition when I moved from the high school to the middle school level, and she has remained a source of support and inspiration for me since then. Collaborating with her has made me a better teacher, and because of this, her impact on the students in the school is multiplied.”

Gillis said she was drawn to teaching English through her love of reading literature. She began her career in Evart 16 years ago and enjoys helping children figure out their personal strengths and what they can become by using those strengths. In addition, the career is one that is constantly changing, which makes further learning essential.

“I look for ways to be innovative to meet the kids where they’re at,” Gillis said. “I think I’ve developed into a good teacher because I have the freedom to try new things and work in a district that is willing to dive in to see what works best for the students.”

She enjoys the small-town atmosphere as well as opportunity to get to know the students on a more personal level, which she believes makes students better students.

“I also bring my kids here to Evart Public Schools, because the teachers care for them and the other students on more than an academic level,” Gillis said. “That’s kind of who I am as a teacher, too, so that’s a great fit for me.”

Evart Middle School Principal Jason O’Dell said he is proud of Gillis and believes is deserving of the award for a number of reasons.

“She really fosters great relationships with the kids, always wants to see what she can do to meet the kids’ needs in class and strives to be a learner herself,” O’Dell said. “It’s a great honor to have one of our team members be selected for this award. It shows how hard she strives to go above and beyond her profession.”