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Feb 21, 2014

Words, Words, Results

"Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.”  — Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Paine, 1796

Dear Champions of Education,

If knowledge is power, then words are its current and currency; for without words to express and convey it, knowledge would surely stagnate and wither. Words have “literally” created civilizations and reshaped them to the ideals of the men and women most capable of expressing them to the masses. There is an art to language and language in the art. This week, the Milken Educator Awards honored three English Language Arts educators who are going above and beyond teaching words, they are empowering students and helping them put words into action—and getting results.

Jennifer OlewnikOn Tuesday, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley surprised Jennifer Olewnik of Grand Bay Middle School in Grand Bay, Alabama. There, Jennifer has been transforming words into action as a reading intervention instructor, and by challenging students to read 25 books on their own interests and levels—the result was a 96% completion rate with all 100% reading at least 19 books in that time. With support and encouragement, Jennifer is showing students that they can exceed their own expectations and now they have the test scores prove it.

Learn more about Jennifer Olewnik (AL ’13), see the photos, videos and news stories >>


Tracee ThompsonDr. Jane Foley (IN ’94) continued her notification tour on Wednesday, going to Jim Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi. An assembly filled with students, staff and community leaders heard the words “Ms. Tracee Thompson, come on down” in an announcement by Governor Phil Bryant that was as exciting as any gameshow. (In fact, if you haven’t yet, take 77 seconds and watch this fantastic reaction, guaranteed to put a smile on your face.) Tracee helps her students realize the power of words through her “Middle Years Program Personal Project” in which she challenges them to create a project that has the potential to change the world. And with the newfound excitement for learning she instills, no one will be surprised when her students do just that.

Learn more about Tracee Thompson (MS ’13), see the photos, video and news stories >>


Erin Hodges with husband Jim HodgesIn Arkansas on Thursday, President and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Dr. Gary Stark (AR ’01) helped the Milken Family Foundation surprise two teachers: our newest Arkansas Milken Educator and her husband (photo), also a teacher at Douglas MacArthur Junior High. English/Language Arts teacher Erin Hodges uses every available resource to help her students expand their knowledge—from new technology to tried-and-true techniques—including leading a multidisciplinary project-based learning program that contributed to double-digit gains in literacy scores.

Learn more about Erin Hodges (AR ’13), see the photos, video and news stories >>

We’ll be back next week with more notifications and news of outstanding educators to share with you. Until then, we thank every educator working to expand the knowledge of our future leaders and leave you with this famous proclamation by the title character of the play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy.

“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”
—Edward Bulwer-Lytton 

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

In this newsletter:  Erin Hodges (AR '13)Jennifer Olewnik (AL '13)Tracee Thompson (MS '13)
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