Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

My Mother, My Career Inspiration

May 5, 2016


On Mother's Day we celebrate our mothers for all they've done for us: cheering our wins, wiping our tears, bandaging our scrapes, answering our questions, and so much more. For the Milken Educators below, Mother's Day also offers an opportunity to thank Mom for leading them to the classroom. Meet the role models who inspired these outstanding educators to become teachers.

Deborah Siebern Dennis with mother 720x480

Deborah Siebern-Dennis (MO '15, right) with her mother Sarah Siebern

Says Deborah: "This photo was taken at my master’s graduation at Northwest Missouri State University. My mother has always supported my decision to become a teacher and she inspired me to focus on middle school education. She taught fourth grade at Lake Contrary Elementary School in the St. Joseph School District. Although she only taught for eight years because she wanted to stay home and raise her three children, she still wanted to be involved with the school, so coached for the district for more than 20 years."  

Melody Tucker with mother 720x480

Dr. Melody Tucker (AL '15, left) with her mother Sharron Hopkins

Says Melody: "My mother taught third grade for 20 years at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Satsuma and three years at Kate Shepard Elementary School in Mobile. She was a dedicated, passionate teacher who always went the extra mile for her students inside and outside of the classroom. Seeing my mother exude this zeal and passion influenced me to go into teaching so that I could have that same fulfillment every day in my career. She taught me that teaching is not just a job — it is a passion and a ministry."

Lauren Jensen hugs mother Leslie Jensen 720x480

Lauren Jensen (NY '15, left) hugs her mother Leslie Jensen

Family members don't normally attend our surprise Milken Educator notifications, but as a recently retired 43-year veteran of the Glen Cove school district, Leslie Jensen would have been on the invitation list for an assembly with state dignitaries at Glen Cove High School even if her daughter hadn't been receiving the award. The older generation was just as surprised as the younger when Lauren's name was called. "Most of you know this woman," Lauren said when Mike Milken, co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, brought her mother up to the front of the assembly. "She's the reason why I became a teacher." 

Angela Malone with mother 720x480

Angela Malone (MD '15, right) with her mother Ernestine Johnson

As Angela told us in her Spotlight interview: "As a young girl, I would help my mom organize her papers at school and at home....Yet, as I got older, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. So many teachers told me that I was 'too smart' to be a teacher. But my mom was intelligent. And she loved her job. And I saw student after student come up to her long after they had been in her classroom and with a beaming smile talk about how much they had learned in her classroom." Ernestine Johnson has taught middle school science at Waskom Middle School in Texas for 42 years.

Adds Angela now: "When I started teaching and had a better understanding of how hard it could be I went to observe my mom's class. I remember being even more in awe of the masterful way she both controlled the classroom environment and simultaneously allowed students to explore and inquire. Actually, I am still in awe of that." 

Pete Arseneault with mother 720x480

Peter Arseneault (CT '15) with his mother Dale Arseneault

Says Pete: "My mother taught ESL at Middletown Adult Education in Middletown. She stayed at home with my sister and me for a number of years before returning as a guidance counselor at Vinal Technical High School. My mother's career in education definitely inspired me to become an educator and to focus on the trades. Hearing about all of these students leaving high school with amazing skills, being able to support themselves, and enter all kinds of interesting ventures after high school really excited me. Even the students who decided to follow a more traditional career path had learned skills that would always stay with them and provide a lifelong safety net. While I did not attend a technical high school, I was heavily enrolled in technical and trade courses in our town's traditional comprehensive high school."



Don’t miss any new articles and updates from Milken Educator Awards:   Subscribe Now