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Fun Learning and Fab Results Land Jennifer Albert a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Florida teacher boosts STEM, test scores and student joy at Emma Love Hardee Elementary

November 29, 2018

SANTA MONICA, Calif., — Small is beautiful in Jennifer Albert's fifth-grade science and math classroom at Emma Love Hardee Elementary in Fernandina Beach, FL, where small group learning leaps to the fore and big academic gains are the norm. Students love learning from a teacher who loves teaching and it shows on state assessments, with her class delivering 81% proficiency in science and 79% in math. Albert employs an eclectic approach that incorporates data-driven differentiated instruction into the classroom so she can meet each student at their own learning level.

But it was Albert who was taking things to the next level this morning at a surprise school assembly where she was presented with a Milken Educator Award by Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart. An awestruck Albert was named a 2018-19 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Florida this year, and is among the up to 40 honorees for 2018-19.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching," has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America's next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, "The future belongs to the educated."

A grade-level leader at Emma Love Hardee, Albert promotes student engagement with project-based learning, vocabulary games, peer mentoring and Kagan Structures, which help students retain critical information by incorporating movements, motions and other mnemonic strategies. Albert's classroom is a model for teachers throughout the district: Video recordings of her lessons fill the school's resource library for beginning teachers, and educators from around the Nassau Country School District flock to her classroom to observe her in action. A leader in the classroom and the community, Albert is often specifically requested by parents who know their children are in good hands and bound to do their best.

"Inspirational teachers like Jennifer Albert do whatever it takes to improve the lives and futures of their students," said Foley. "Science, math and creativity commingle mightily in her classroom where active learning lights the way to better opportunities, outcomes and lives."

"Congratulations to Jennifer Albert on receiving this prestigious award from the Milken Family Foundation," said Stewart. "I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand her passion for educating Florida's future generations. She has an impressive ability to impact positively her students and to form strong positive relationships with their families. She possesses many outstanding qualities that make her an excellent role model for all educators, and it was a pleasure to recognize her today."

"Jennifer Albert is a dedicated educator who works diligently to ensure the success of every student every day," said Dr. Kathy Burns, Superintendent of Nassau County School District. "She builds positive relationships with her students, their families, and her peers. The data is just one more indicator of her overwhelming success! We are fortunate to have her as a teacher, leader, and model of Excellence in the Nassau County School District."

About Milken Educator Jennifer Albert
The fifth-graders at Emma Love Hardee Elementary in Fernandina Beach, Florida, light up when they enter the classroom of science and math teacher Jennifer Albert. Albert creates a safe and trusting learning environment where students participate actively and with confidence. Her project-based learning and inquiry-based approach uses a variety of strategies and methods, including manipulatives, vocabulary games, peer mentoring and cooperative learning strategies. She works with small groups throughout the class, adeptly meeting each student at his or her level and using data to differentiate her instruction. Albert uses Kagan Structures, helping students retain critical information by incorporating movements, motions and other mnemonic strategies into her lessons. She has fun teaching, students have fun learning, and together they deliver great results: In 2016-17, 81% of Albert's students reached proficiency in science and 79% in math on state assessments.

Albert is a trusted mentor at her school and within Nassau County Schools. She is the fifth-grade leader and has built a cohesive team that collaborates to ensure student success. Albert's classroom is a model for STEM educators throughout the district. The resource library for beginning teachers contains video recordings of many of her lessons, and educators from around the district observe her in action in the classroom. Albert has chaired the BRIDGES (Broadening Regional Impact by Developing and Growing Excellent Schools) committee; served on the school's Positive Behavior Support Team and STEAM Committee; and worked on the district's Instructional Leadership Team. She has led professional development and is known as a positive leader who is always willing to help other teachers.

A dedicated educator with a sincere love of learning, Albert builds a bond with the entire family. Parents request her for their children, and she treats everyone with respect, including students, colleagues and family members. A lifelong learner who takes every opportunity to improve her own skills, Albert inspires the same love of learning in her students.

Albert earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1998 from the University of North Florida and a master's in educational theory and practice in 2013 from Arkansas State University.

More information about Albert, plus links to photos and a video from today's assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2018-19 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans from March 21-24, 2019. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional learning opportunities throughout recipients' careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children's education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at, and

For more information, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772. 

About the Milken Educator Awards
The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 31 years ago in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

Lynne Russo 
(818) 903-6079 cell;