Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

What We're Thankful For in 2020

November 24, 2020

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Even in this challenging year, Milken Educators say they have a lot to be thankful for. Click to see what the Milken Educator community is giving thanks for in 2020.

Vincent Long thankful 2020 1000w

Vincent Long (MT '99)
Retired | Billings, MT

“Considering my age I am thankful for another birthday (and another year of being cancer free.)”

Jen Almquist Lehman thankful 2020 1000w

Jen Lehman (CO '06)
Second grade | Superior Elementary School | Superior, CO

“As far as teaching goes, I’m thankful for all the updates and extras that Google Meet provides...mostly breakout rooms!”

Silvia Miranda thankful 2020 1000w

Silvia Miranda (NM ’18)
Fourth grade | Mesa Elementary | Clovis, NM 

“I am thankful for my students. They are my reminder that what we do IS important and IS making a difference! I am also thankful for family. Teaching is tough right now, and my family has wiped my tears, cheered me on, and kept me sane while I have doubted my ability to meet the demands of my job this year. And for my Milken friends, always so willing to share and uplift—a true network of support and collaboration!”

Tami Lunsford thankful 2020 1000w

Tami Lunsford (DE ’17)
Biology and marine science | Newark Charter High School | Newark, DE

“I’m thankful for my colleagues and MFFs [Milken Friends Forever] who remind me how many of us love being educators and how important our work is, even (or especially) these tough times.”

Angela Harvala thankful 2020 1000w

Angela Harvala (MN '14)
Fifth grade | Princeton Intermediate School | Princeton, MN

“This profession is truly a blessing. I am thankful to teach in a district and state the prioritizes the needs and safety of teachers and students and that allows teachers the autonomy to do what is best for students, even during these uncertain times. I am also blessed with amazing colleagues, students, and families. In my personal life, I am thankful for my wonderfully supportive family and our fourth baby expected in March.”

Jennifer Reaves thankful 2020 1000w

Jennifer Reaves (WV '18)
Technology integration specialist | Mylan Park Elementary | Morgantown, WV

“I’m thankful for the technology that allows us to maintain connections and build relationships with our students and our loved ones. Technology continues to break the barrier of physical distance.”

Bobi King thankful 2020 1000w

Bobi King (TN '12)
Fifth grade | Farragut Intermediate School | Knoxville, TN

“I’m thankful for my amazing coworkers and the sweet smiles I still see behind my students’ masks!”

Brooke Powers thankful 2020 1000w

Brooke Powers (KY '17)
Director of professional learning | Open Up Resources | Lexington, KY

“I am thankful for the amazing work I’m seeing teachers do around the country. Just watching my own children during virtual school, it blows me away how much their teachers have adapted to ensure learning continues. Teachers are among the real heroes of 2020.”

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Sarah Compton (WI '18)
Fifth grade | Northside Elementary | Monroe, WI

“I’m thankful for the countless parents, family members, and caretakers who are suddenly tasked with supporting virtual learning. Their partnership has been invaluable this year. I’m in awe of their willingness to step outside of their comfort zones and learn new methods, new tools, and new technology. This isn’t easy on anyone, but rather than lamenting the circumstances, most families are proactive, responsive, and determined to make this work for the sake of the kids!”

Gina Benz thankful 2020 1000w

Gina Benz (SD '15)
English | Roosevelt High School | Sioux Falls, SD

“I’m thankful for my students’ and administrators’ trust in my unconventional assessment practices.”

Stephanie Whetstone thankful 2020 1000w

Stephanie Whetstone (LA '18)
Fifth grade | Bains Elementary | St. Francisville, LA

“I think 2020 has taught us to be thankful for all of the little things. I’m so thankful to be teaching in person, something I will never take for granted again. To see my students each day smiling behind their masks, to be able to greet my coworkers and collaborate in person and being healthy are what I am most grateful for this year.”

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Jane Ching Fung (CA '02)
Early transitional kindergarten | Belvedere Elementary School | Los Angeles, CA

“I am thankful for the opportunities I have had this year to grow and learn like never before, even in my 34th year. I am thankful for parents, siblings, grandmas, and caregivers, who have become my true partners in teaching this year. I am thankful for my young students, who show up every morning ready to sing, dance, and learn with me. I am thankful for having a job that brings me such joy, even in times of uncertainty. And I am thankful there is Zoom, that connects us all when we can't be together.”

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Dr. Marisa Rivas (CA '09)
Sixth grade English | Arrowview Middle School | San Bernardino, CA

“I’m thankful to be able to work in an environment that embodies what it means to make hope happen. I’m surrounded by colleagues who are willing to go above and beyond in order to meet the needs of our students during these extremely challenging circumstances. I’m also thankful for the positivity and resiliency of my students, which never fails to inspire me.”

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Brian Allman (WV '19)
Sixth grade | Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School | Buckhannon, WV

“Thankfulness, for me, stems from perspective. I think most educators probably feel like they have lost something this year from a professional standpoint. That being said, what comes with that loss is a sense of gratitude, at least for me, that is stronger than ever. This perspective allows to me be thankful for my education and the ability to help others who are struggling more than I am right now (and there are many who are). It also gives me a great appreciation for my co-workers, family, friends, and Milken network as these people are there to support, challenge, motivate, inspire, and uplift when I don’t know the answer. I’m confident that if we all rely on our support systems we will come out of this eventually and be better for it.”

Neal Cronkite thankful 2020 1000w

Neal Cronkite (MI '17)
Fifth grade | Washington Woods Middle School | Holt, MI

“I’m thankful for my colleagues who continue to innovate and work to meet kids even when we can’t be face to face, and for the families I work with who are doing everything they can to help their children be successful.”

Hailey Couch thankful 2020 1000w

Hailey Couch (OK '18)
Second grade | Adams Elementary | Norman, OK

“I am thankful to have the opportunity to make a difference in my students’ lives.

“I am thankful to be a part of the Milken Family Foundation and to be inspired daily by fellow Milken Educators to be the best educator I can be. I am thankful for my MFF [Milken Friend Forever] Angie Besendorfer (MO '96) for encouraging me to go to graduate school. Before the Milken Family Foundation and my new Milken Educator came into my life, I never even thought about or considered graduate school. Now, I strive to be at least 10 percent bolder daily. I will graduate in May with my Masters in Educational Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision and hope to start as an assistant principal very soon.

“I am also extremely thankful for technology because it has allowed us to continue to reach students during these unprecedented times.”

Erika Klose thankful 2020 1000w

Erika Klose (WV '17)
STEM coordinator | West Virginia Department of Education | Charleston, WV

“I am thankful to be part of a community that is driven by the love of children and the desire for all our children to have what they need to succeed, in whatever life direction they choose.”

Nick Peruski thankful 2020 1000w

Nick Peruski (MI '19)
CTE coordinator | Lakeland High School | White Lake, MI

“I am so thankful for my network of professional colleagues. I am constantly getting new ideas of ways to engage with my students virtually, and sharing my successes with others. Together, I truly believe that we can not only get through these challenging times, but actually thrive in them.”


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