CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Kanawha County educator was honored Wednesday by the Milken Family Foundation for her exceptional contributions to quality education. Amanda Mays, a fifth grade teacher at J.E. Robins Elementary School in Charleston, is this year’s Milken Award recipient from West Virginia.
The award, which provides public recognition and an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 to teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education, alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators. New recipients are taken completely by surprise during school-wide assemblies overflowing with proud students, colleagues and an entourage of distinguished officials and media. In a moment’s time, these unsung heroes gain celebrity status and, as one previous awestruck recipient said, “I feel like I’ve won an Academy Award and the lottery!”
“Our society’s most important profession is teaching as it informs all others,” said Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken. “We created the Milken Educator Awards to proclaim in a very public way that greatness in education must be recognized and rewarded.”
Mays, an eight-year classroom veteran, holds degrees from West Virginia State University and Salem International University. Her areas of expertise include Project-based Learning, technology integration, positive behavior support and balanced assessments.
Colleagues and supervisors describe her classroom as a place of “high expectations, mutual trust and respect.” They say Mays is a teacher who “has taken many students who have fallen through the cracks and with interest in them, increased positive behaviors, increased achievement and increased confidence.”
“Teachers like Amanda have the most important jobs in America,” said West Virginia Superintendent Steve Paine. “We entrust them with the enormous responsibility of preparing our young people with the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to be successful in the 21st century.”
Research has shown that the single most important school-based factor driving student performance is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. The most effective teachers produce as much as five times the learning gains of the least effective teachers.”
Dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Award was created by brothers Lowell and Michael Milken to recognize the efforts of some of our nation’s most outstanding teachers, principals and specialists in public education.
The Milken Educator Award, first awarded in 1987, has become the largest educator recognition program in the country. Since its inception, the foundation has presented more than $60 million to about 2,450 educators nationwide.
Educators are recommended for the prestigious honor without their knowledge by a panel appointed by each state’s department of education. Recipients of the Milken National Educator Awards are selected on the basis of numerous criteria including
· Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school
· Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession
· Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight
· Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership
· Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.
For more information about the Milken Educator Awards and the surprise notification events held throughout the United States, please contact the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4775 or visit www.mff.org, or contact the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.
-- Lowell Milken has been an education reform leader for more than two decades. In addition to creating the Milken Educator Awards to recognize teacher talent, he established the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP)™ as a complementary initiative to develop more highly effective teachers through comprehensive, research-based reform. TAP has expanded to over 180 campuses since its launch in 1999, impacting more than 60,000 students and 5,000 teachers. In 2005 Lowell established the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, an independent public charity, to operate TAP and the Teacher Quality Best Practices Center with the goal of a quality teacher for every classroom in America.
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