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Coding with a purpose: Vincent Chiaramonte is Alabama's $25,000 Milken Educator Award Recipient
R.F. Bumpus Middle School teachers shares his knowledge and love of tech with community at large
November 28, 2017
SANTA MONICA, Calif., — There's no powering down computer science teacher Vincent Chiaramonte. From high-fives to inspirational notes, from coding to robots, his exuberance for all things tech inspires his middle school students to create things they never thought imaginable for themselves – he gives them a purpose. But today, the purpose of the all-school assembly was to give Chiaramonte $25,000 as the only Milken Educator Award winner from Alabama this year.
Hoots and hollers filled the gym as the Bumpus Bucs' excitement grew louder after Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley announced his name. Chiaramonte is among up to 45 honorees for 2017-18 to receive the national recognition and unrestricted cash prize.
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."
Chiaramonte joined the faculty of R.F. Bumpus Middle School in 2014. The role enables him to help students master foundational computer science skills through coding, computational thinking, sequencing, and formulation. Chiaramonte believes all students should become what he calls "solution-makers": young minds that use critical-thinking skills to solve problems encountered in everyday life.
"Vincent Chiaramonte has not only impacted his own classroom and students across the school district, but now, the entire state of Alabama with his engaging and practical curriculum exposing middle school students to understanding and navigating the tech world," said Foley. "Beyond just the study of computational algorithms, Vincent is providing his students transferrable skills and tech applications that could propel any of his students to be a force for innovation and scientific discovery. As Milken Educators, we're very excited to see what his future holds."
"This recognition of Vincent Chiaramonte is a testament to his unwavering commitment to developing life-long learners," said Interim State Superintendent of Education Dr. Ed Richardson. "Mr. Chiaramonte's classroom is a differentiated wonderland of learning where he weaves in new technologies and creative ideas to engage students in discussions about the connections between the curriculum and real life. He strives daily to inspire his students and nurture their skills to make them the best they can absolutely be. We are proud to recognize Vincent Chiaramonte – a role model for what rigorous and innovative instruction looks like in action – as Alabama's 2017 Milken Educator."
"Vinny is an outstanding young man with a passion for students and a network of colleagues who respect him as a leader in his school," said Hoover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Katy Murphy. "He is a committed educator with an exceptional delivery of instruction. Oh, that America's classrooms could be filled with the likes of Vinny Chiaramonte!"
About Milken Educator Vincent Chiaramonte
Vincent "Vinny" Chiaramonte reached Phi Kappa Phi status earning a 4.0 GPA while pursuing his master's degree in secondary education. These days, he's inspiring seventh and eighth-grade computer science students at R.F. Bumpus Middle School, while making them feel valued and welcomed, especially when he gives his popular "You have a purpose" speech. He takes a genuine interest in students as individuals, making it a point to call them by name and learn their individual interests. Via Skype, one class even met the CEO of Flickr, who explained how he built a successful tech company. Chiaramonte teaches his students that barriers are opportunities for growth.
As such, Chiaramonte provides a stimulating and challenging classroom environment using a "living" curriculum that weaves in new technologies and out-of-the-box big ideas, including a Robots on the Move project and designing math software about cornrow braiding. Reinventing his own computer science courses, lessons are built around guided and independent practice, student-led instruction, critical thinking, and real-life applications with a writing component accompanying all final projects. Students log in, go to his blog, view tutorials and complete the "Do Now" assignments requiring problem-solving and collaboration. Chiaramonte's students gain an appreciation for computer science and gravitate toward the high school's engineering and information technology career academies.
In addition to his roles as classroom teacher and football coach, Chiaramonte is the school's Engaged Learning Initiative facilitator working with teachers throughout the district to promote its 1:1 environment, a program to provide access to each child with a tech device (e.g. iPad or Chromebook). His leadership position on the school improvement team resulted in The Bumpus Way – a new positive culture initiative at the school. Chiaramonte has presented for Hoover City Schools' Learn, Teach and Inspire Conference and the Alabama Educational Technology Conference, where he was chosen to be the first statewide facilitator for the newly developed code.org middle school curriculum.
A blog contributor to www.csforallteachers.org, Chiaramonte also shares his knowledge and love for technology with the community at large. He is the volunteer designer and lead teacher for the TechBirmingham Code Club and Kids-Code-A-Thon, and graduated from Space Camp for Educators.
Prior to public education, Chiaramonte worked in the private sector as an investments coordinator for a project management firm. He also taught in private schools, worked as a youth minister, and completed his student teaching in Shelby County Schools before joining Hoover City Schools.
A native of Georgia, Chiaramonte earned his Bachelor of Science in biblical studies from Toccoa Falls College in 2002, and his Master of Secondary Education in social science from the University of Montevallo, where he graduated with honors in 2011.
More information about Chiaramonte, 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/Vincent-Chiaramonte.
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, Chiaramonte's 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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