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Nov 09, 2012

How Do You Engage?

stephen abenth notification

“THANK YOU for email box has been flooded with parent emails congratulating Steve and the school! What a wonderful day! I let Steve leave to tell his wife in person and take her out to lunch!” — Teresa M. Vibar, Principal, Highland Park Elementary

Students are increasingly distracted by electronics, by situations at home and an ever increasing multimedia din vying for their attention, not to mention the timeless elements of fear and disinterest.  So how do you, the educators, overcome all of that?  How do you engage?

For Stephen Abenth, our fresh-off-the-notification Milken Educator Award winner from St. Paul (he was honored this morning), the answer is: a sense of humor, enthusiasm and creativity.  It doesn’t hurt that he uses every 21st century tool he can and keeps parents not only informed, but involved.  To round out his portfolio of engagement tools for the well-rounded student, Stephen instituted a school-wide music program and serves as choir director.  You can read more about Stephen, his endeavors and accomplishments, on his profile.  And if you’re a Milken Educator, don’t forget that you can log in and contact him yourself for advice on how he gets grants for artists-in-residence, does daily assessments, or just to congratulate him (we should have his email address for you soon)!

But enough about Stephen, let’s talk about you.  What tools do you use to engage students?  Can you share with us a story of success using a tool or technique?  How about an experience with a student who wasn’t doing well, but you found a way to draw them in and raise their achievement?  You can post them on our Facebook page or email them to me. 

Thanks to all of you who responded to our question, “why do you do it?" last week.  Here are just a couple of the answers we received.  These and others will be joining the Milken Moments section of our website soon (including another great one from Joe Stephens on facebook!).

“I believe it is our job to teach students, not to simply teach math or music or science. Today we took time from class to talk about some real life issues, including family communication issues. Our kids are surrounded with so many pressures that we need to help them be adults in a complicated world.”
                   — Joel D. Pressman, via facebook

"@Milken We teach to make a difference. There is incredible joy watching children grow as readers, writers, thinkers, and friends."
                   — Gresham Brown (@greshambrown) via twitter

I’ll compile some of this week’s answers to “how do you engage?” for next week’s newsletter.

Speaking of next week, now that the storms are hopefully behind us, we’ve got our own storm of notifications heading around the country next week.  Are you following @Milken on Twitter yet?  It’s always the fastest way to hear about a notification and see all of the pictures being tweeted live from the event.  And, don’t miss a single amazing, emotional instant reaction video by subscribing to our YouTube channel!


Boris Kievsky
Notifications Newsletter Editor
Manager, Online Communications and Engagement

P.S. Thanks especially to those that sent me their notes of appreciation for this newsletter.  It’s great to know that people are genuinely enjoying and getting something from it.  Our goal here is to engage you, our amazing educators, and help you do what you do so well.  So I’ll keep asking if there’s something you’d like to see more of/less of or just different in this newsletter.  If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please share them with us by hitting “reply” or emailing

Steve's Reaction Video

stephen abenth reaction


In this newsletter:  Stephen Abenth (MN '12)
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