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The Honor Roll

In these exciting times of astonishing access to technology and information, the traditional model of education has changed. The days of lecturing and rote memorization are over. Today’s schools are dynamic, filled with experimentation and active learning. Throughout the region, educators are dreaming up innovative methods to reach students. Teachers are bringing their lessons to life with virtual reality, hands-on experiences, and tailor-made curriculum, opening the minds of their students and getting real results.

Regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First founded the Catalyst Education Awards with the mission of making Southwest Michigan recognized globally for its success in preparing young people to thrive in education and employment. According to Ron Kitchens, the organization’s chief executive officer, “Everyone can point to a single life-changing moment in their past that set them on their current path. And for many, this occurred in a classroom. We would like to celebrate the fact that across the region, these moments happen in our schools every day.”

The 2017 Catalyst Education Awards, sponsored by the Michigan Lottery, recognize educational excellence by honoring one elite school, principal, and teacher for their diligent and creative work to elevate student achievement. By implementing best practices in their classrooms and schools, they pave the way for the next generation of thinkers, engineers, artists, and leaders. Take out your number two pencils and read on to take note of the extraordinary successes of our region’s exemplary educators.

Kalamazoo Scores Big

Zach Terrell
Western Michigan University (WMU)
Finance, B.B.S. ’15, M.B.A., in progress)

Hometown
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Employment
Executive Development Associate, Zeigler Auto Group

A Favorite College Memory (or Two)
Athletically, winning the Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship and going to the Cotton Bowl are at the top of my list of highlights. Running out of that tunnel in Texas, hearing everybody chant “Row the Boat,” and seeing three-fourths of that stadium filled by Bronco fans was breathtaking. Personally, my greatest accomplishment in college though is having met my wife.

A Reason to Lift your Spirits

The U.S. craft spirits industry is booming. With more than 1,315 craft distillers nationwide and growing, the “craft” movement is taking hold in a way that could mirror the success craft brewers have had in recent years. And with a reputation for its world-class breweries, Kalamazoo is poised to be a destination point for the craft spirits industry as well.

Distilleries like Green Door Distilling Co. and Kalamazoo Still House are bringing craft spirit production to downtown. Retail stores, bars, and restaurants having been seeing a shift toward consumers who are looking for craft and local.

LEADER2LEADER: Danielle Anderson

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP?

Danielle Anderson: Leadership is the ability to instill confidence and inspire others to be the best version of themselves.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION THAT YOU CAN MAKE AS A LEADER IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Danielle: As a leader, I strive to make roles more than “just a job” for my coworkers. We spend more time together than we spend with our families. I make sure I “show up” in so many ways, set an example, build trust, show compassion, and reward hard work.

LEADER2LEADER: Patrick Sheffers

HOW DO YOU DEFINE LEADERSHIP?

Patrick Sheffers: Leadership is the act of driving a committed mission, and continuously delivering positively to better a group or organization.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION THAT YOU CAN MAKE AS A LEADER IN YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Patrick: The biggest and most important decision I make every day is to remain positive. You can’t always control what comes at you, but you can control how you react. Staying positive helps me focus and be efficient. It also affects the people around you and allows you to lead through example.

WHAT IS ONE MISTAKE YOU OFTEN SEE OTHER LEADERS MAKING?

Patrick: I have seen leaders who do not pay particular attention to emotional intelligence really damage the trust that people have in them. One of the most harmful things you can do as a leader is to lose control of yourself.

HOW DID I GET HERE? – Tim Lester

1977 | BORN IN WHEATON, IL

I grew up in a very tight-knit, family town. I think it was (a question) on Jeopardy (once) for having more churches per capita than anywhere else in the world.

We also love our football in Wheaton. Harold “Red” Grange was from Wheaton. He was arguably the best college football player of all time—people called him “The Galloping Ghost.” We all tried to live up to his legacy. Starting in 1988 there was a 22-year stretch when we were in eleven state championships; I was proud to be a part of that.

1994 | GRADUATED FROM WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL

I played high school football from 1991 to 1994. I was so lucky, mostly because I had John Thorne as a coach. He was the best coach I have ever been around, still to this day. He’s in every hall of fame possible, but he never talked about winning because character and integrity were much more important.

Because I was surrounded by terrific teammates and coaches, a lot of opportunities opened up. I used to dream about where I would play after high school. I wanted to go to the University of Florida, UCLA, Nebraska, or any of the other places that were sending me offers. Everything changed my senior year when I blew my knee out during the second-to-last game of the season. I was so frustrated with the timing that I tricked the trainer into letting me play the final game. That lasted four plays before it happened again and I needed surgery.

A few of schools like Penn State and West Virginia stayed with me through the injury. But I needed to re-evaluate my options, especially when all the Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools that initially thought I wouldn’t be interested started calling me. I realized that I had to change my priorities; I decided to base my decision not on prestige, but on people and environment.