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.”
Pass Christian High School Principal Dr. Robyn Killebrew (MS ‘17) turned her surprise Milken Award celebration into a schoolwide party, complete with Twister and colored lights: “Our students know I couldn’t do what I do without them, so it was exciting to be able to celebrate together.”
Chemistry teacher Jonathan Cadena (AZ ‘17) says his Milken Educator Award has given students something to brag about and raised the profile of Tucson's Desert View High School: “We’re doing a lot of good things and people need to know about them.”
At the end of her first year of teaching, social studies teacher Valerie Baalerud (AK ‘17) learned that her position was being eliminated. Her students lobbied the school board, ferociously and successfully: “It’s a reminder of the power students have when they raise their voices.”
One thing math teacher Andria Lindsey (OR ‘17) loves about teaching is spending her days with young people whose whole lives lie ahead of them: “They inspire me every day to be my best and look to the future.”
Physical education and health teacher Shannon Hill (WY ‘17) takes students hiking, biking, snowshoeing and camping to instill a lasting love for the outdoors: “I hope they take these experiences with them and remember to be comfortable in their own skins.”
Since her Milken Award surprise, Maria Rodgers (OH ‘17) says her students have been putting their best foot forward in class. And there’s another benefit: “Students are telling me that they want to become teachers, too!”