LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A Grand Ledge Public Schools teacher was recognized by the Michigan Lottery for her excellent work in education.

Jill Ford of Willow Ridge Elementary won the Excellence in Education Award for engaging her students and encouraging personal growth.

Ford is a fourth-grade educator at Willow Ridge Elementary, and as part of her reward, Ford was given a plaque, a $1,500 cash prize and a $500 grant to her classroom, school, or school district.

Ford said her father and his appreciation of his students drew her toward a career in education.

“I have always enjoyed working with children,” said Ford. “My father was a teacher, and I was always inspired when his students would come back years later to see him and show appreciation for all he did.”

One of Ford’s favorite activities is using games to help teach her kiddos math.

Ford’s husband nominated her for the award.

“Jill has gone over and above the call of duty by taking on the responsibility of the Willow Ridge Elementary school facility dog – Alfie,” said Ford’s husband. “Jill cares for Alfie evenings and weekends and oversees Alfie’s schedule with other teachers. Jill is a standout leader in her school by providing wisdom and stability for new teachers as well as be mentor teacher for college students who are training for a career in education.  She is highly respected and trusted at Willow Ridge.”

Ford got her bachelor’s degree from the Moody Bible Institute and an elementary education degree from Arizona State University.

She has been an educator for 13 years.