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Advancing all the abilities earns Meghan LeFevers a $25,000 Milken Educator Award
North Carolina administrator boosts disabled, gifted and everyone in between at Bessemer City High
December 18, 2017
SANTA MONICA, Calif.,—Going all in for all students, Assistant Principal Meghan LeFevers is lifting the fortunes of everyone at Bessemer City High School by helping each of them individually. A data-driven humanitarian who has worked with autistic students, the hard of hearing and the gifted, LeFevers has shown a knack for raising test scores, rousing colleagues and rejuvenating remedial education.
But LeFevers was the one being roused this morning with a jolt of euphoria at a surprise all-school assembly: That's where she was presented with a prestigious Milken Educator Award by State Superintendent of Education Mark Johnson and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley. A stunned LeFevers was named a 2017-18 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. LeFevers is the only Milken Educator Award winner from North Carolina this year, and is among the 44 honorees for 2017-18.
The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching," has been opening minds and shaping futures for 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."
Whether she's using data to pair students with the most appropriate teachers to fit their learning styles or coaching math teachers on pacing and instruction techniques to lift test scores, LeFevers is a creative administrator and educator who's always looking for new ways to help students overcome physical and social challenges to excel in unanticipated ways.
"A former math teacher turned assistant principal, Meghan LeFevers has seen education from many different angles and brings her breadth of experience and insights to bear for students, colleagues and the wider community," said Foley. "Working across the educational spectrum from gifted students to the disabled, she strives to maximize the potential of each and every student, especially those from underserved communities. Always pursuing lofty goals, she epitomizes the practical yet uplifting spirit of the Milken Educator Awards."
"Meghan exemplifies the best that North Carolina's public schools provide their students and communities and represents other school leaders working so hard for their students," Johnson said. "Students here at Bessemer City High School succeed as a result of her leadership. One example of her leadership is how she helped develop an innovative schoolwide learning plan that includes personalized feedback and intervention for every student. Her keen interest in data, curriculum and instruction – not to mention students – helps this school stay focused on what's most important: effective teaching and learning."
About Milken Educator Meghan LeFevers
Meghan LeFevers, the assistant principal at Bessemer City High School (BCHS) in North Carolina, champions educational equity at every turn. LeFevers strives to make sure all students are included in educational opportunities, regardless of their special needs or disabilities. She worked with the district's Alternative Education Hearing Panel to facilitate a transition process to the inclusion model for students in "Exceptional Children" programs, which in North Carolina cover students with different educational needs at both ends of the spectrum, including those with physical, mental or social challenges as well as gifted students. Inspired by a student with autism with whom she worked closely in the past, LeFevers served on the district's parent advisory board for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Exceptional Children’s Division and has volunteered for organizations that help students with disabilities participate in athletics.
LeFevers, who taught math to at-risk middle school students before moving into administration, is keenly interested in data, curriculum and instruction. When she arrived at BCHS, a high-poverty school about 25 miles west of Charlotte, only 5% of Math 1 students reached proficiency on year-end assessments. LeFevers stepped into the math department's professional learning community, meeting weekly with teachers to coach them on pacing and instruction. By the end of the 2016-17 school year, the Math 1 proficiency rate at BCHS had risen to 32%. LeFevers encourages students to chart their own data so they can track their individual growth.
A leader in the district and her community, LeFevers served on the district superintendent's Leadership Cohort, delivered a keynote address at the 2017 Annual Inclusion Conference at Winthrop University and presented at the 2017 Conference on Educational Leadership in Greensboro. She helped create a master schedule to pair students with the best teachers for their learning styles and developed a schoolwide learning plan that included personalized feedback and interventions for every student. LeFevers works as the school's public relations liaison, sharing news and student accomplishments on social media. She hails from a family of educators; her mother retired from Gaston County Schools after more than three decades in education.
LeFevers holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Appalachian State University (2007) and a master's in school administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (2014).
More information about LeFevers, plus links to photos and a video from today's assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/Meghan LeFevers.
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, LeFevers' 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, 2017-18 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Washington, D.C., March 20-23, 2018. 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 www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards, www.twitter.com/milken, www.youtube.com/milkenaward, and http://instagram.com/milkenfamilyfdn.
For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org 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 30 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.
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