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Nov 15, 2013

Learning and Legacy

“You have just witnessed a national pep assembly for the teaching profession. Be a teacher. Make a difference.” — Lisette Clemons (CO ’89) to the students at Bear Creek HS, Lakewood, CO

Dear Champions of Education,

What is your legacy? There are several accepted definitions to the word “legacy.” Whether referring to an alumnus, a valuable gift bequeathed or a heritage created, great teachers create legacies that impact countless lives. Over the past two weeks, we have added four new Milken Educators to our growing family that embody those definitions.

Sarah FrankoThe first legacy is fifth-grade science teacher Sarah Franko (OH ’13), of North Royalton Middle School. Sarah’s mother, father and sister are all science teachers! Sarah is known for her simple motto, “what’s best for the kids.” Read Sarah’s bio to see just a few of the ways she embodies that creed. With a 10% jump in science scores in one year, it’s clearly working.

If you’re reading this, you already know firsthand the power that an educator can have on a child’s life. But if you needed any reinforcement today (or want something to share with others), watch Sarah’s video in which Superintendent Dr. Richard Ross shares with us the difference that one teacher made in his life and the importance of saying thank you to great teachers.

Marielle EmetThe second legacy is the one that Marielle Emet (RI ’13) is creating as math teacher and dean of academics at Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy. Her drive to close the achievement gap for students in urban populations led her to become a founding faculty member of Blackstone Valley Prep, where she led the charge to Rhode Island’s highest growth rates in math.

Marielle had to fight back the tears when she heard Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announce her as Rhode Island’s only Milken Educator Award winner this year, while all of the scholars in assembly cheered and chanted her name.

Jose MartinezSocial studies teacher Jose A. Martinez III (CO ’13) is a third-generation teaching legacy on his father’s side…and a fourth on his mother’s! Milken Family Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken explained to the 1,750-student assembly at Bear Creek HS in Lakewood, CO, that “the single most important school-related element that determines student learning is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Yes, good teachers really do make a difference.” Jose was so taken-aback when Lowell announced his name as that, as he tells us in the video, he wanted to hide for a moment to regroup. Of course, with students on their feet cheering and colleagues pushing him forward, retreat was not an option and Jose accepted his thrust into the spotlight most graciously.

It’s rare that a Milken Educator Award is the second most significant event in a teacher’s month, but considering Jose got married just 10 days earlier, we don’t mind. Especially since his wife is a teacher as well!

James MoonanThe final educator welcomed to the Milken Educator family this week was James Moonan (MA ’13). James is a different sort of legacy at Pierce Middle School in Milton, MA: he was once a student there himself. Now, he teaches sixth-grade math and coaches several teams (of the math and sports varieties) at Pierce and at nearby Milton High School. James is known for his philosophy “if kids don’t learn the way you teach, then teach the way they learn.” But as he explains in the video to Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, the notion comes from his deeply-held belief that every student is smart in their own way. Nourishing their inner genius seems to be paying off for James’s students. In 2012, their median growth percentile on standardized math tests was 63.5.

A special thanks to the six Milken Educators who came to Sarah Franko’s surprise of a lifetime, the nine at Marielle’s, the 12 that joined Lowell at Jose’s, the 10 who came to James’s in Milton, and all of you who have “liked” and commented on the Facebook updates or tweeted your support. You make an enormous difference in the impact of the day for the honoree and what we at the Milken Educator Awards want our legacy to be: one of recognizing the invaluable work that educators do and inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps.

What do you want your legacy to be? Let us know in the comments below.

Boris Kievsky
Newsletter Editor
Manager, Online Communications and Engagement
Milken Family Foundation

In this newsletter:  Marielle Emet (RI '13)Sarah Franko (OH '13)Jose Martinez (CO '13)James Moonan (MA '13)
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