2024 Education Excellence Award Winners

Each year, the SET SEG Foundation hosts the Education Excellence Awards in partnership with the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), granting funds to public school programs that change lives and impact students’ futures. In addition to the $2,500 grant, award recipients receive an “Education Excellence Winner” road sign and commemorative trophy to proudly display their accomplishments in the community.

And the winners are…

Detroit Public Schools

The Drew Horticulture Program serves special needs students and creates hands-on experiences that translate to adult life and career readiness. Students learn how to grow and tend fruits and vegetables, providing their crops to the school cafeteria, an in-school farm stand, food banks, and a stand at the Detroit Eastern Market. The program even offers opportunities to learn marketing and sales through selling produce to local restaurants.

Dundee Community Schools

Peer to Peer Celebrations connects autistic students with their peers, allowing them to build relationships and learn from each other. This partnership in the classroom creates an environment that celebrates equality and friendship, with students spending time together in class, at recess, and during lunch. Students, ages four-years-old to fourth grade, learn social-emotional skills, empathy, and kindness.

Ewen-Trout Creek Consolidated Schools

The Panther Den Community Caring Cart is a donation-based clothing closet serving students and the greater Ewen community since 2017. The Panther Den is filled with new and used clothing in all sizes and personal hygiene items, organized by volunteers, and displayed so that those in need can “shop” with dignity for items to fit their needs. When students and community members’ basic needs are met, their confidence and achievements in and out of the classroom continue to increase and benefit.

Glen Lake Community Schools

Essential Rotations is a series of classes middle school students take each year that promote social-emotional learning, social awareness, ethics, and self-management. Each grade level focuses on a different element of learning.

  • Sixth-grade students take the Hug Your Brain course, learning about self-awareness, mental health, and how to work with their peers to collaborate and problem-solve.
  • Seventh graders learn about social media, awareness, and dilemmas, focusing on developing their identity, ethical decision-making, and respecting other’s perspectives.
  • Eighth-grade students take woodshop, which is a creative approach to teaching self-management through responsibility, self-discipline, and goal planning and achievement.

This series of classes helps students learn more about themselves and their mental health and allows them to develop into their best selves safely and securely.

Grand Ledge Public Schools

The annual STEAM Showcase at Beagle Middle School highlights the projects that art and STEM students complete during the school year. About 400 students create over 2,000 exhibits including everything from simple machines and interactive prototypes to multimedia art displays throughout the school. Last year, the theme was based on the hit Netflix show “Stranger Things,” and over 250 students, families, faculty, and community members attended to see the installations created by the middle school students.

Lakeshore School District

Each spring, Hollywood Elementary students and staff come together to give back to the school and community, learning social responsibility, kindness, and charity. Students participate in a variety of projects like decorating lunch sacks for Meals on Wheels, weeding garden beds at local businesses and schools, making blankets for nursing home residents, and creating baby bags for new mothers. Children develop their social-emotional skills and can apply STEAM learning to create their projects.

Oakland Schools

Farm-to-Fork is a collaboration at Oakland Schools Technical Campus between the Agriscience & Environmental Technology and Culinary Arts/Hospitality program. For five weeks, the agriscience students raise 24 chickens, entering their top 12 largest chickens into a competition. Following the competition, the students present the progression of raising chickens to their culinary arts peers, who then receive the processed chickens to use in the kitchen and teach the agriscience students to break down and prepare a meal with the chickens raised.

Rogers City Area Schools

The School Garden is an integral part of the botany class at the high school, providing hands-on learning as well as fresh produce for the school cafeteria. The program utilizes the garden as an opportunity for students to learn about plant biology, environmental science, and sustainability, reinforcing their academic concepts with real-life experiences. The plans for the program include growing the greenhouse to produce even more crops to sustain the cafeteria and expanding the variety of produce grown throughout the year.

St. Charles Community Schools

This year, the Beautification Day program celebrates 50 years of supporting the St. Charles community, with thousands of students contributing over the program’s tenure. Originally started as an Earth Day cleanup, students now go out and serve their community by completing projects like litter clean up, planting flowers and trees, and even building birdhouses and benches. Students from grades 7-12 apply STEAM concepts to their projects, combining academics with social responsibility and stewardship. This program has grown to involve generations of families and learners as the community comes together to support each other.

St. Johns Public Schools

LINKS is an inclusive education program that caters to the diverse and unique needs of all students regardless of their abilities. At St. Johns Middle School, special needs students are paired up with other students to create a support system in and outside of school. This program increases academic achievement and social-emotional development for all students involved, creating lifelong friendships and connections.

Donate to the Education Excellence Awards

Did you know you can sponsor a scholarship or grant through the SET SEG Foundation? If you want to support impactful programs like the Education Excellence Awards, donate today!

SET SEG Supports New Talent in the Insurance Industry

As an employer in the insurance industry, SET SEG believes that supporting students’ education is the key to building a successful future for the insurance industry by curating a strong talent pipeline. AmTrust Financial reports that the industry employment trends suggest a potential insurance talent crisis as retirement approaches for older workers with no one to replace them.

To address this issue, the SET SEG Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship was created. In honor of Alan Fergin, a valued SET SEG team member for nearly 40 years, this scholarship was designed to provide assistance and resources for students pursuing higher education in principles of insurance, risk management, and mitigation practices.

“At SET SEG we understand the importance and value of supporting and fostering new talent,” said Tim Averill, Executive Director of SET SEG. “We are passionate about investing in the future of the insurance industry and equipping young professionals with resources to further their education.”

The Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship awards qualifying students pursuing careers in the industry $1,000 to those attending community college and $2,500 to those attending a four-year university per academic year. The scholarship can be renewed for up to a total of four academic years to be used for insurance-related program educational costs such as tuition, books, and other class materials.

Renewal Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to our three 2023 Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship renewal winners! Previous scholarship winners who are continuing higher education in insurance and risk management are eligible to renew their scholarships for another academic year.

  • Neveah Reasoner of Mason, Michigan has renewed her scholarship for her second year of education at Ferris State University.
  • Miguel Solis of Lansing, Michigan renewed his scholarship for his second year at Michigan State University.
  • Carter Cappon of Hastings, Michigan has renewed his scholarship for his fourth year at Olivet College.

Five Michigan Students Receive 2023 Insurance and Risk Management Scholarship

Asia St. John graduated from Leslie Public Schools and the Wilson Talent Center in Mason, Michigan. As a first-generation college student, she is excited about the opportunities the insurance industry brings and plans to learn multiple roles in the field. St. John is receiving $2,500 to use toward further education in insurance and risk management.

Chasity Johnson, a mother of five, has returned to school to pursue a more fulfilling career path in the insurance industry, following her passion to help others. “I also hope this inspires my kids to always go after their dream no matter what age they are,” she shared. Johnson is receiving $1,000 toward her education at Lansing Community College.

Ramon Lopez is a high school senior at Lansing Public Schools whose interest in the field was piqued through an insurance basics class. He looks forward to bringing his strong work ethic and passion to learn into the insurance industry. Lopez is receiving $1,000 toward her education at Lansing Community College.

Fowler native Macy Gibbons discovered insurance through classes at Eaton RESA in high school, sparking her desire to pursue insurance and risk management as well as claims investigation in college. “I enjoy insurance because it is an important industry that will never fade, and I love being able to provide support to other people during hard times.” Gibbons is receiving $2,500 to use toward further education in insurance and risk management.

Isabella Seger-Wagasy comes from a family of insurance agents who has inspired her to pursue education in the field with the hope of one day taking over the family business. She plans to study abroad in Europe to learn from a variety of international insurance companies and hopes to guide young professionals in the future through involvement in young insurance agent groups. Seger-Wagasy will receive $2,500 to use toward further education in insurance and risk management.

Know Your School’s Roof – It Matters

What type of roof system does your school district have? When do your roof warranties expire? When was the last time someone walked on and inspected your school’s roof?

If you don’t have the answers to the questions above, then let us help you.

For Michigan public schools, the weather can wreak havoc on facilities. Whether you’re located in the Upper Peninsula experiencing heavy amounts of snow and ice, or near the lakeshore getting wind and hail, threats to a school’s roof are frequent and can result in costly claims.

But with limited personnel and high turnover, SET SEG understands the challenges many of our members are facing when prioritizing a comprehensive maintenance program.

Marquette-Alger RESA: A District’s Perspective

Chief Financial Officer at Marquette-Alger RESA, Anthony Bertucci, has more than 15 years of experience working in public school facilities. After recently completing a roof replacement at his district, Bertucci shares his perspective on the challenges and solutions that come with roof maintenance at a Michigan public school.

Q: For a school district, what are the challenges that you’ve encountered regarding roof maintenance?
Most often the biggest challenge is personnel, feeling like you don’t have the staff and the capacity to maintain all facilities in the district. But roof maintenance is critical – you have to make the time.

Q: What are some of the processes you and your facility team have put in place?
You have to get up there regularly and walk the roof. We’ve established a schedule, clearing drains at least twice a year and checking all roofs after high winds or any other major weather event. Regular walkthroughs are the best way to identify issues before they become a major problem.

Q: For school employees who don’t have experience maintaining roofs, where do you recommend they start?
Make the time to do the preventive maintenance walkthrough – and pay attention to those roof drains. Understand the building structure and figure out what type of roof you have. You need to get someone with decision-making authority up on the roof to understand the conditions, then lean on SET SEG’s resources if you need additional support.

“We’re very fortunate as a school district to partner with an organization like SET SEG, which really has the best interests of its policyholders in mind. I really appreciate their proactive approach, with all the resources and trainings they provide.” – Anthony Bertucci, Chief Financial Officer at Marquette-Alger RESA

Make Roof Inspections a Priority – Contact SET SEG

SET SEG Loss Control Representative Skip Barclay is a HAAG-certified commercial roof inspector, performing building hazard assessments and reviewing claims for members across the state. After touring the Upper Peninsula’s school roofs with additional plans to explore the rest of the state, Barclay has seen it all.

Q: What is it about roofs that pose such a challenge?
Roof systems can be complex, and if you don’t have a record of the type of roof system you have, when the warranties are up, and an inspection and maintenance checklist, then it’s a real challenge for school staff to maintain safe and secure roofs.

Q: How does a school district get started in understanding its roof system and what it takes to maintain it?
Have an inspection schedule, review manufacturer/contractor’s information warranties, familiarize staff with how the roof is constructed, and be able to identify defects. Potential problems aren’t always noticeable, knowledge of your roof system enhances the chances of finding and preventing potential problems.

  • Are your drains blocked?
  • Do you have pools of standing water?
  • Are there any sections of the roof membrane loose or flapping in the wind?

If you find any of these issues, repairs may fall under existing warranties. If not, call your SET SEG Loss Control Representative immediately before greater damages occur.

Q: Why call SET SEG?
We’re here to help and this is what I do. As a member of the Property/Casualty Pool, we can help you identify and develop a strategy to address your biggest roof challenges. We can help you establish a maintenance schedule that fits your facility’s staff and their capacity. We are committed to providing the resources and support a district needs to prevent these major claims from occurring.

“Due to the longevity of roof warranties and high turnover in school districts, there needs to be a process and schedule established to maintain your roofs. I encourage districts to get up on the roof, document what they’re maintaining and the types of roofs they have.” – Skip Barclay, SET SEG Loss Control Representative

Start Here to Access SET SEG’s Roof Resources

  • Request a Roof Inspection
    Fill out this form to request a visit from SET SEG’s certified roof inspector, Skip Barclay, to inspect roofs and provide guidance on the next steps.
  • [PDF] Roof Inspection Form
    Download your own roof inspection form and start documenting your maintenance record.
  • [PDF] Snow Removal Tips
    Click to access tips on developing a snow removal plan for your district.

When a Gym Floor Looks Like an Ocean Wave

When water encounters a gym floor and isn’t immediately removed and inspected, disaster looms. If not caught immediately and dried, water can severely damage a gym floor almost immediately.

In our over 35 years of experience, our Property/Casualty claims team has witnessed gym floors so buckled and bent, the district had no choice but to shut the gym down and replace the whole floor – leading to months of contract and claims negotiations, athletic and sports event repercussions, and unique classroom coordination challenges.

What happens when a gym floor gets wet?

  • Buckled and bent floorboards
  • Relocated gym classes
  • Canceled practices and games
  • Approximately $90,000-$190,000 in damages
When Disaster Strikes, Who Do You Call?

Chad Zeismer, SET SEG’s Property Claims Consultant, has seen it all, walking school district administrators through some of the worst property claims seen in the state.

Q: As the SET SEG Property Claims Consultant, what is your role when a district calls with a potential problem?
First and foremost, I work with the Loss Control team to determine what potential claims are likely and what can be done to prevent them. If there is a reported loss, I will first identify what caused it and if it’s considered a covered loss. I work with the vendors and contractors to negotiate costs, ensuring no one is taking advantage of the district or the claim. Even if the loss isn’t covered, we still work closely with the district to ensure they’re receiving fair pricing to repair any damages.

Q: Why are gym floors such a problem?
Gym floors are one of the most expensive items in a school and often the main focus for a community. Because they’re susceptible to any water intrusion, if any amount of water is found on a gym floor, then cleaned up and forgotten about, real problems can start to emerge as short as a few days later. If water has been left on a gym floor, it may be too far gone to salvage. It’s important for school employees to take any amount of water on the gym floor seriously.

These types of claims often happen over the holiday break, causing a district to lose the second half of their basketball season, wrestling meets, and cheer competitions – disrupting all kinds of athletic programs. To prevent this, call your flooring contractor, mitigation contractor, and SET SEG if you notice water on the gym floor. We will make sure the contractors work together to save the floor from damage.

Q: Why call SET SEG?
We’re here to help. As a member of the Property/Casualty Pool, you’re not alone. We are dedicated to providing members with the tools and resources to prevent claims before they occur. However, when disaster strikes, we provide the support and claims assistance to help districts navigate a difficult time.

“We’re not an insurance carrier – we’re a Pool. We value our partnerships with public schools and it’s important to us that we assist our districts in saving money and resolving claims in a timely manner.” – Chad Zeismer, SET SEG Property Claims Consultant

Ionia Public School District: A Disaster Avoided

Even when administrators and facilities staff are doing their due diligence to ensure school district buildings and property are safe and functioning at an optimal level, incidents can still occur.

In April 2022, the facilities team at Ionia Public School District discovered water on the gym floor due to a leak in the roof. Immediately, Facilities and Grounds Director Mike Avery, along with Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Andy Barr, took action, calling in mitigation contractors, a flooring contractor, and the school’s SET SEG Loss Control Representative. While the roof leak was addressed, the gym floor was evaluated, dried, and sections of flooring replaced.

“SET SEG really kept things moving,” Avery stated. “So much so that we never missed a day of class in that gym – there was no disruption to the school’s business despite having to fix the floor.”

As a long-time member of the Property/Casualty Pool, Ionia Public School District’s facilities crew has developed a partnership with the SET SEG Loss Control Team in an effort to improve safety and security measures throughout the district and manage any potential issues.

“I’ve been in this role for 20 years and SET SEG has stepped up to the plate anytime we’ve needed assistance when it comes to our facilities,” said Avery. “What’s amazing is how fast they reach out to us after we file a claim. The response time, along with the expertise and suggestions we receive through routine safety walkthroughs is invaluable.”

Take Immediate Action

All it takes is a few days for a gym floor to start bubbling up or buckling if exposed to water. If there are any signs of water collecting on your district’s gym floor, contact SET SEG immediately.