An Alabama teacher has won the national prestigious Milken Educator Award and also received $25,000.
Jennifer Olewnik, who teaches at Grand Bay Middle School in Mobile County, was presented the award on Tuesday by the Milken Family Foundation. The announcement was made during the 27th annual coast-to-coast tour that rewards top educators across the nation.
Olewnik was not expecting to win the award or the $25,000 check, and was surprised with the award at a school assembly. The award honors the exceptional work of educators as a model of the state and nation. Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice presented the award to Olewnik along with Dr. Jane Foley, Senior Vice President of the Milken Educator Awards.
"Jennifer Olewnik is a dedicated professional educator who offers to our students the best of what quality instruction can give," Bice said. "She inspires her young students to want to learn and is respected by her peers, who credit her with creating a true reading-friendly campus environment at Grand Bay Middle School. Today, we honor Ms. Olewnik who is an exemplary Alabama educator, and Alabama's 2013 Milken Educator."
Olewnik is a reading and reading intervention teacher who has helped numerous sixth through eighth graders improve their reading skills and literacy comprehension. Olewnik has helped many at-risk students succeed by tailoring her lessons based on the students' abilities. Olewnik has helped 78 percent of her students score a four on the statewide ARMT reading test.
Outside of the classroom, Olewnik serves on the language arts textbook adoption committee, the school literacy committee, the math curriculum writing committee, participated in the school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) pilot program, as well as served as one of the cheerleading coaches.
Each year the Milken Family Foundation travels from coast to coast surprising teachers, principals, and specialists with $25,000 awards because they are furthering excellence in education.
Since Alabama joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1998, 31 Alabama educators have received the "Education Oscar" and a total of $775,000.
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