Ironwood teacher wins Excellence in Education Award from the Michigan Lottery

The award winner, Susan Clausen, is a second-grade teacher.
Susan Clausen, a second-grade teacher with the Ironwood Area School District, has been honored...
Susan Clausen, a second-grade teacher with the Ironwood Area School District, has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.(Michigan Lottery)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 11:44 AM EST
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IRONWOOD, Mich. (WLUC) - A Gogebic County educator known for navigating distance learning with her students has been honored with an Excellence in Education award from the Michigan Lottery.

The award winner, Susan Clausen, is a second-grade teacher with the Ironwood Area School District.

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. 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 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. The news segment featuring Clausen will air this evening in Grand Rapids and Lansing, and then on Thursday in Saginaw and Detroit.

Clausen, who comes from a family of teachers, said her desire to help students who struggle in school led her to a career in education.

“My start was in the special education field but changed after 20 years into the general education field in hopes of filling the gaps before students are considered for special education,” said Clausen.

She said her favorite part of being an educator is “seeing students' faces light up when they learn a new skill. It’s also incredibly rewarding seeing students I had years ago stop me and say hello. Even after so long, we can still connect.”

Clausen was nominated for the award by the parent of a student. The nomination cited her ability to adapt to distance learning without sacrificing time for students.

“She has been able to direct these kids as if they were there in person and has followed a great schedule. These kids have been able to navigate not only their materials at home but also their online assignments. I have been in awe watching these kids navigate this new way of learning. I was worried that by choosing to safely keep them home their learning would take a hit but that clearly isn’t the case.”

Clausen earned a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University. She has been an educator for 23 years, 21 in the Ironwood Area School District.

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.

About 97 cents of every dollar spent on Lottery tickets is returned to the state in the form of contributions to the state School Aid Fund, prizes to players and commissions to vendors and retailers. In the 2019 fiscal year, the Lottery provided more than $1 billion for Michigan’s public schools, its fifth record contribution in a row. Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed more than $23 billion to support public education in Michigan. For additional information, follow the Michigan Lottery on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and online at

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