Founded in 1985 as an initiative of the Milken Family Foundation, the Milken Educator Awards program rewards and inspires excellence in the world of education by honoring top educators from around the country. The Missouri branch of the program recently established the Missouri Teacher Leaders of Tomorrow Awards, a special distinction to honor and celebrate the valuable contributions of student teachers in the classroom.
Each Teacher Leader of Tomorrow award recipient is paired with a Missouri Milken Educator as a mentor. This mentorship is designed to create a safe space for new educators to share ideas and receive support during their first year of teaching.
Only ten students are awarded yearly in the state. Three MU students were selected for the award:
Jessica Lacy, Elementary Education major, Student Teacher at Rock Bridge Elementary
Jessica’s Cooperating Teacher, Jaclyn Carmack, had this to say: “Jessica has done an outstanding job since she has joined me in the fifth grade at Rock Bridge Elementary. I have been impressed with her ability to form relationships with students in the class. The students enjoy her personality and engaging lessons, as well as respect her in an authoritative position. Jessica has taken initiative many times to help out with morning work, read aloud, and many other small things to begin taking over the classroom. On a larger scale, she revamped our social studies curriculum into slideshows, videos, and activities that the kids enjoy. In English Language Arts, she has developed a “crime scene investigation” from scratch, where our students will be inferencing and using text evidence to find out who “stole” the teddy bear from the classroom. Her innovation and creativity is extraordinary and I am more than thrilled to have her join me this school year. She has secured a teaching job for next year in Kansas City and I know she will be an outstanding asset to that school.”
Madison Wandrey, Special Education major, Student Teacher at Hallsville Primary School
Cooperating Teacher Victoria Smith nominated Madison: “It has been a privilege to have Madison as a student teacher in our school this year. During her time here she has shown amazing leadership skills and has proven to not only be a team player but an amazing teacher to her students as well. Madison’s student teaching experience has not been a traditional one as she is serving as the lead teacher in a high needs special education classroom. She has excellent instincts and the students love her. She has taken on responsibilities that many other student teachers do not have and she has done amazing with each of them. She has developed lessons, created behavior plans, jumped right in teaching on day one, and led difficult meetings with parents — all with grace. I’m so proud to be Madison’s cooperating teacher and to be able to call her a colleague as well. I wholeheartedly recommend Madison to receive this honor as she truly is a Leader of Tomorrow.”
Molly McClanahan, Secondary Social Studies major, Student Teacher at Parkway North High School
Molly was nominated by her Cooperating Teacher Julie DeCaro: “I am honored to recommend Molly McClanahan for the Missouri Teacher Leaders of Tomorrow Award. Having had several student teachers in the past, I was very pleasantly surprised with her instant comfort in the classroom as compared to my previous experiences. Molly has this very natural ease with students and a knack for building a safe and comfortable classroom community that could easily be compared to that of a veteran. In the four weeks she has been in the classroom, I can easily tell that students trust and respect her just as if she were the classroom teacher. Not only does she work hard at fostering positive relationships with her students, but she also makes it a priority to collaborate with her colleagues within our classroom and outside of our classroom as well. Because she teaches co-taught classes, at any given time she could have an additional four adults in the classroom supporting individuals and/or groups of students. Molly works with an English Language Learner Teacher’s Assistant, a couple of different para-professionals, and a co-teacher, in order to ensure all of her students have access to the curriculum she teaches. As she started unit and lesson planning, she took it upon herself to seek out the support of our amazing librarians in order to craft engaging lessons using authentic and reliable resources. Perhaps the most impressive quality Molly possesses is the way in which she adjusts her approach and sometimes pivots entirely from class to class depending on the ways her students are responding or in order to better meet her students’ needs. She is an excellent reflective practitioner who receives feedback with an open mind and an eagerness to then apply that feedback to her next class. I am so proud of her hard work and the progress she has made in such a short amount of time and I am inspired by her commitment to her students. Molly McClanahan embodies every quality necessary to become a teacher leader and is very deserving of being a recipient of this honor.”