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At the time of the Award, Dr. Duke taught fourth-grade at John Adams Elementary School in Madera, where she was a passionate advocate for literacy. A nationally recognized innovator, expert trainer and consultant in the fields of language arts and instructional methods, she has published several books on literacy. She immersed her students in their learning through such units as "California Days," in which students constructed replicas of 19th century pioneer artifacts and wrote "autobiographies" of pioneers' lives. In her classroom, students actively engaged in taking responsibility for their learning by evaluating their own portfolios. Dr. Duke was a mentor teacher in language arts and restructuring for both the school and the district. Jan taught in the classroom for over 30 years before becoming a school administrator. After serving as a curriculum specialist and learning director in the Hanford Elementary School District, Dr. Jan Duke moved to Paso Robles where she consulted with Springboard Schools. Upon retirement, Dr. Duke taught a reading class through Fresno Pacific University's School of Professional Development.
Jan passed away on Christmas Day, 2012. For the last two years, Jan served as the National Liaison Coordinator for Milken Educators, helping to rebuild and revive our monthly updates to Milken Educators in every state around the nation.