At A. S. Putegnat Elementary School, a high-poverty inner city campus in Brownsville, fifth-grade teacher Robert Rivera has consistently proven his belief that all students can learn. Despite a high population of economically disadvantaged students, every one of his fifth-graders passed the math portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in 2005, with 62 percent achieving "commended" performance. Chair of the school's math department, Mr. Rivera connects learning across subject areas, inserts himself into story problems to make them more real-world, and models how to approach math problems, challenging students to use higher-level thinking skills. Mr. Rivera also mentors students on completing schoolwork and building good character, and provides one-on-one help to troubled students. Actively involved in the district's math cadre, which works on curriculum and benchmark testing of math skills, Mr. Rivera played an instrumental role in helping the district create diagnostic tests, providing feedback to other teachers and urging them to use challenging material. All this adds up to one truly outstanding educator.
"I truly hold the Milken Family Foundation close to my heart. It changed my life and career completely and validated my teaching..." (read more)