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Massachusetts Educator Leigh Beson Is First in Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District to Be Honored with $25,000 Milken Educator Award
Title I reading interventionist strengthens student literacy at Dighton Elementary
April 05, 2023
Santa Monica, Calif., — In a surprise assembly today, Leigh Beson, a Title I reading interventionist at Massachusetts' Dighton Elementary, received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for helping students reach their potential in literacy and beyond. Beson, who was formerly a first grade teacher at the school, is the first Milken Educator Award recipient from the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District and the sole honoree from Massachusetts this 2022-23 season.
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Massachusetts Deputy Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Dr. Regina M. Robinson presented the Award to Beson in front of proud students, colleagues, local and state dignitaries, and the media. The $25,000 financial prize can be used however she chooses. Beson's event culminates the Milken Family Foundation’s 2022-23 coast-to-coast tour honoring 35 outstanding elementary educators.
"Reading helps build the foundation for success in school and life. Leigh Beson has a gift for using data to identify the unique needs and abilities of every student, creating a nurturing environment for them to flourish," said Dr. Foley, who is herself a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. "Leigh's new role as a reading interventionist allows her to leverage her expertise as a primary classroom teacher to benefit larger groups of students and colleagues. We are proud to welcome her into the national Milken Educator family today."
In addition to today's celebration, the Award carries lifelong benefits: Beson will join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 outstanding educators and leaders dedicated to strengthening K-12 education. Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year's winners' list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced.
"Ms. Beson's skills of creating joy, learning and growth for all students have never been so important," said Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley. "I'm glad to see her recognized today, and I hope this award will help inspire others to become educators."
Since 1987, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.
More About Leigh Beson
Targeting Student Literacy: Students at Massachusetts' Dighton Elementary make huge strides in literacy thanks to reading interventionist Leigh Beson. She uses data to optimize targeted student learning and designs instructional activities tailored to each child's unique needs. Beson employs a wide range of assessments to monitor student progress and fine-tune her methods. Her objective: ensuring that all students progress towards their full potential.
Promoting Curiosity, Confidence and Independence in the Classroom: Beson held the same focus on student growth in her previous role as a first grade teacher. She covered the walls of her classroom with interactive color-coded anchor charts studded with sticky notes, placeholders for questions raised as the class worked, and offered students choice in writing assignments, keeping a box of prompt words on hand to offer ideas as they wrote, edited and revised.
Student-Centered Learning: On Fridays, Beson led craft projects that tied together lessons from the week—a unit on weather, for example, ended with students making wind chimes. She emphasized collaboration in helping students reach their potential, making sure every student in her classroom succeeded with organizers, checklists, scaffolding and differentiation. During the pandemic, Beson's interactive Google Classroom included both asynchronous and synchronous instruction, weekly assignments and suggestions for time management. By the end of each school year, most of Beson's students met grade-level expectations, regardless of where they started.
School Leadership: Beson has participated in the district's literacy academy and served on curriculum, writing implementation and district literacy teams. Teachers who have observed her in action see a leader not unlike the conductor of an orchestra, always aware of what everyone in the class is doing and who needs help at any moment. Everything Beson does at Dighton has a singular purpose: to make a difference in the lives of students, colleagues and the community.
Education: Beson earned a bachelor's in English from Fordham University in 2009 and a master's in elementary education from Northeastern University in 2012.
More About the Milken Educator Awards: "The future belongs to the educated."
Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 and growing of exemplary teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.
- The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles later this month, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education.
- In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFF) mentoring program, in which new Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
- Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels.
- "We find you. You don't find us!" Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.
- The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.
To receive regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the Award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).
For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.
About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken, 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. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at MFF.org.