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Megan Sidge knew her calling would be in special education after seeing the impact her mother had as a teacher in that field. Now, after five years of being a special education teacher herself, Sidge has been recognized by the Michigan Lottery as its educator of the year. 

Sidge, who teaches students with autism spectrum disorder at Hickory Woods Elementary in the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, was selected by the Michigan Lottery for its annual award. Along with the recognition, Sidge received $10,000. 

She said working with her students at the school in Novi is rewarding.

"I love being able to see the growth that they make, and helping them," said Sidge. "I try really hard to stay updated on  how they're doing, even after they're with me. They just really are a part of my heart."

The Michigan Lottery hosts the Excellence in Education award, which is a weekly prize given to teachers for their dedication to education. Each week, a teacher is awarded a plaque, a $1,500 prize, and a $500 grant to their classroom, school or district.

Toward the end of each school year, one of the weekly winners is chosen as the educator of the year. 

The Michigan Lottery started the award in 2014. Nominees are elevated on excellence, dedication, inspiration, leadership, and effectiveness. Sidge was selected from among more than 670 nominees.

"It's so hard to select one candidate because they all are so deserving but you know just her compassion and her commitment to those students ... some of the things she does to go above and beyond to help those students ... and I think that made her stand out," said Jacob Harris, the deputy commissioner of sales for the lottery. 

While several Walled Lake district teachers have won the weekly Excellence in  Education award, Sidge is the first to win the grand prize. 

"Megan is so deserving of this honor. She works tirelessly to advocate for her students, families, and her team," said Patricia Chinn, Hickory Woods Elementary principal, in a press release. "She does this with a constant positive outlook and desire to grow. Serving students as individuals is at the heart of everything she does."

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