When students tell Dan Adler (MA ‘17) they’re interested in teaching, his first reaction is unbridled joy: “That means they see something they love in their day-to-day school experience, and my colleagues and I are doing something good for them.”
To keep classic literature relevant to students’ lives, Lauren Hopkins (RI ‘17) includes contemporary songs, young adult literature and discussions of parental pressure in her lessons: “Romeo and Juliet, no longer just characters in a drama, become relatable teenagers fighting to be loved and understood.”
Heidi Albin (KS '17) credits her fifth-grade teacher, Milken Educator Gary Bloemker (CO '94), for passing on his passion for education and influencing her teaching style: “He was the best teacher I ever had, and he showed me how to love school and love students.”
Math teacher Brooke Powers (KY ‘17) will use some of her Milken Award to take her kids on a special summer trip as thanks for attending her students’ sporting events, watching her grade papers and playing in her classroom while she preps: “It is not always easy to be a teacher’s kid.”
Katherine Watkins (TN ‘17) decided to try teaching after a chance encounter with her former AP Literature teacher at the post office: “What began as an experiment has proven to be one of the best decisions of my life.”
Aaron Ferguson (CA ‘17) credits his students’ hard work as much as his own for his Milken Award: “I tell them that success like that occurs when a bunch of talented people get together and choose to do something great.”
At his mother’s suggestion, young Ryan James (VA ‘17) spent a summer as a peer tutor. From then on, education was his number one career choice: “Whether it was as a tutor, camp counselor, resident adviser or teacher, I always felt that I connected well with younger people.” Ryan won Virginia’s 2017-18 Milken Educator Award at Richmond’s Lucille M. Brown Middle School on November 15, 2017.
When her students are distracted in the classroom by difficulties at home, math teacher Kristen Lents (IN ‘17) focuses on making learning relevant: “I strive to make connections to their lives and the real world.”