Posted in News on December 20, 2018

Local non-profit economic development organization Lakeshore Advantage recently issued a call for nominations for their annual Visionary Award, this year recognizing an outstanding K-12 educator leading in career exploration with students. Today the organization announces they have narrowed the applications down to three award finalists. 
“Early career education is critical to bridging the talent gap our employers face,” said Jennifer Owens, President of Lakeshore Advantage. “We believe that sharing these successful initiatives will inspire others in education and industry to create additional connections between in-demand career opportunities and our future workforce.”
Of nine eligible submissions, the three Visionary Award finalists are:
  • Rich Currie, Allegan County Area Technical & Education Center
    Rich Currie has been the welding instructor at Allegan AESA for over thirty years, building partnerships with local welding and fabrication shops and recruiting students, running the welding lab like a workplace. READ MORE
  • Vince Heyser, Saugatuck High School/Middle School
    Vince Heyser started at Saugatuck schools teaching furniture building and cabinetry. He has since diversified the program to teach more job skills and reach more career paths. He also connects students to community projects using the skills they are learning, such as public signage, art, philanthropy and more. READ MORE
  • Dave McCallum, Otsego Middle School
    Dave has transformed his technical education classes to create a series of courses targeting specific high-demand fields. He designed and teaches three different STEM classes which range in topics from Design & Modeling to Civil Engineering. READ MORE
The three Visionary Award finalists will be recognized and the recipient announced at the Lakeshore Advantage Annual Meeting at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville on Friday, January 18, 2019. The winning teacher’s school district will be awarded $1,000 to fund activities that support career awareness and the winning teacher will receive $500. These awards are possible through the generous sponsorship of Fifth Third Bank. 
“Sponsorship of the Lakeshore Advantage Visionary Award allows us to celebrate innovation in education locally,” said Scott Lubbers, Lakeshore Community President, Fifth Third Bank. “We are proud to recognize the hard work and positive impact educators make through encouraging students to picture for themselves a future full of possibilities. Early career education builds a stronger community and connection to exciting opportunities ahead.”
Applications were reviewed by Lakeshore Advantage staff and members of the Lakeshore Advantage Board of Directors, who then chose the three finalists. The Visionary Award recipient will be selected through an online voting process open to Lakeshore Advantage investors only. 
Eligibility for the Visionary Award is reserved for current K-12 teachers in Allegan or Ottawa counties who have created opportunities for students to gain awareness of in-demand careers through projects and collaboration. More about the award is available at is open for the Lakeshore Advantage Annual Meeting at