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Nov 3, 2016

Our Family Grows in LA, CO, NM

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Lowell Milken talks with students at Joseph J. Davies Elementary School in Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

Four more outstanding teachers and principals joined the Milken Educator family as our 30th anniversary season continued in Louisiana, Colorado, and New Mexico. Read on to meet the newest Milken Educator Award winners.

Catherine Randall (LA '16)

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More than a decade ago, Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of St. Bernard Parish, including Joseph J. Davies Elementary School. Catherine Randall (LA '16), who won her Milken Educator Award in front of her very proud school community last month, has been a large part of the school's rebound from the natural disaster. Veteran Milken Educators Phyllis Diecidue (LA '03, left) and Denise Duhe Pritchard (LA '11, right) were on hand to welcome Catherine to the Milken Educator family. Both teach at schools that get students from Davies, and both have children who currently teach in the parish. Pritchard, who opened Davies Elementary after Hurricane Katrina as its principal, was incredibly excited for Catherine: "I’m shaking just like I was at my own notification in 2011," she said.

Devon Willis-Jones (LA '16)

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When Devon Willis-Jones (LA '16) took over as principal of Jeanerette Elementary School in Louisiana's Iberia Parish, the school had just earned an F in state ratings and only 40% of students scored at or above grade level on state assessments. In one year, Devon took the school to a B, and the changes have stuck, with Jeanerette now a "Top Gains" school and a first choice for teachers who want to hone their craft. At her surprise notification, the principal got a huge hug from veteran Milken Educator Jacklene Marie Jones (LA '01), the human resources director for Iberia Parish School District—who also happens to be Devon's aunt.

Jennie Schmaltz (CO '16)

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When Jennie Schmaltz (CO '16), a third-grade teacher and literacy coach at Elkhart Elementary School in Aurora, Colorado, was walking up to the front of the gym to accept her Milken Educator Award from Lowell Milken, she was pondering what that moment meant for her students. "I started thinking about how important it is for the kids to see what can happen if you work really hard," Jennie told Aurora News Weekly after her surprise notification. She credits her mom, a recently retired teacher, for inspiring her to choose a career in education.

Melissa Kovac (NM '16)

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Second-grade teacher Melissa Kovac (NM '16) likes to keep her students at Santa Fe's Amy Biehl Community School on their toes. She occasionally comes to school dressed as a bee, complete with antennae. When asked why, Melissa said bees remind her of her students. "Bees work together to keep their hive functioning and use teamwork," she said. "In our classroom, we are a team and work together to learn." Melissa's proud students apparently have taken on another bee-like habit: They swarmed around her for congratulatory hugs before returning to their classroom.

In this newsletter:  Phyllis Diecidue (LA '03)Jacklene Marie Jones (LA '01)Melissa Kovac (NM '16)Lowell Milken Denise Duhe Pritchard (LA '11)Catherine Randall (LA '16)Jennie Todd (CO '16)Devon Willis-Jones (LA '16)
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