Chemistry teacher Maria DeBruin (NJ ’17) expected her life to change when she left the corporate world for the classroom, but she’s embraced every part of her role as a teacher, even bathroom, hall and cafeteria duty: “I have learned to love every opportunity to interact with students.”
Theresa Cross (LA ’17) is using some of her Milken Educator Award money to fund an annual award for an outstanding educator at InspireNOLA charter schools: “It was so wonderful to be acknowledged that I want other educators to have the same experience.”
Former high school dropout Vinny Chiaramonte (AL ’17) chose a career in education to become the teacher he wished he’d had: “I want to help students see the world of endless possibilities in front of them.”
Biology teacher Lisa Rodgers (CO ’17) isn’t sure students will remember the exact content of her classes, but she thinks the process will stick: “I hope they remember how to engage in scientific inquiry so they can reliably answer their own questions later in life.”
Teaching math is all in the family for Dale Adamson (FL '17). He works alongside his sister Katelyn and mother Karen, a 30-year math educator he considers his biggest professional inspiration: "She has instilled in me the belief that a teacher is never done learning."
A professor once told Toni-Ann Palmisano (NJ '17) that the key to classroom management is not cracking a smile until December. She’s glad she ignored that advice: “I embrace my bubbly personality in the classroom because I want my students to see that no matter what age you are, it’s important just to be yourself.”
Social studies teacher Jordan McGaughey (MO ’17) hopes kids leave his class charged about learning and prepared for college-level work: “If students are passionate about what they are learning, they’ll seek out more education as they get older.”
How has the AVID experience shaped Milken Educators? In a panel discussion at the AVID national conference in December 2017, four Milken Educator Award recipients talked about the impact AVID’s college-and-career-readiness strategies have had on their own practices and their students’ success.
When a graduate school colleague convinced her to bring a bucket of organisms into a local middle school, marine biologist Tami Lunsford (DE ’17) knew she had found her purpose: “My heart kept calling me back to the classroom.”