Research clearly demonstrates that next to parents, teachers have the greatest impact on a child's academic success. There is a lot of discussion about teacher quality, but few real solutions have emerged regarding the best way to effectively train, attract and retain high quality teachers – and to do so at scale.
This is partly because teaching is both art and science; you may be a smart and talented writer, but teaching writing requires a little more than just knowledge of the topic. As a mom, I see this every day. My daughter is now blessed with two talented instructors who have made her eager to learn and have the ability to engage her young mind in ways that I never could.
This is why attending one of the Milken Family Foundation's Educator Award ceremonies last week in Washington, D.C. was particularly inspiring to me. (I used to work at Knowledge Universe, one of Milken's companies.) The $25,000 award went to Kena Allison, a physics teacher at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a high performing charter high school. Since 1985, the foundation has worked with education commissioners in each state to help raise the stature of teaching by granting an award to standout teachers.
The award is an unrestricted gift to early to mid-career education professionals to acknowledge their good work. More than 2,500 teachers have received this award, which also comes with the opportunity to attend a Hollywood-style gala in Los Angeles and a networking community of educators through the foundation.
At a time when so much attention is focused on aligning teacher pay with student performance and purging the profession of its bad apples, it is nice to have an organization focused on elevating the stature of the profession and rewarding its highest achievers.