It was the surprise of a lifetime when students, staff and dignitaries
witnessed fourth-grade teacher Roseann Maurantonio winning the prestigious 2014
Milken Educator Award and $25,000 during a morning assembly at Rosendale
Elementary School in Niskayuna, New York.
Maurantonio is one of up to 40 recipients across the country this school year who will be receiving the honor during the 2014-15 season and the only one in New York. The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. The award comes with an unrestricted financial award of $25,000.
Along with the recognition typically bestowed to recipients, Maurantonio now belongs to a network of more than 2,600 K-12 teachers, principals and specialists from around the country.
"Receiving the Milken Educator Award was one of the best surprises ever, and it is an incredible honor to be present when another Milken Educator joins the ranks," said Heather O’Leary, (NY '10), an ESL Teacher at Hamilton Elementary School in Schenectady who was on-hand for today’s notification. "To me, the award represents all the life-changing teachers that I know, my colleagues as well as the teachers I had when I was a student. It inspires and sustains me every day, to keep doing what so many wonderful teachers do — to put their hearts and souls into helping their students to grow, learn, and flourish, no matter what challenges they face in school or in their lives."
During an assembly at the school today, Maurantonio was presented her award by Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a Milken recipient herself, and Niskayuna Central School District Interim Superintendent John Yagielski.
"On behalf of our district and community, I want to congratulate Roseann on this tremendous accomplishment and thank the Milken Family Foundation for bringing this special recognition to Niskayuna," Niskayuna Interim Superintendent John Yagielski said. "Roseann's work and ability to engage students, connect with all learners, and contribute to her profession demonstrates the paramount importance of classroom teachers. It's a proud day for our district."
Dr. John B. King, Jr., Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York, was at the assembly to discuss the topic of college readiness when the assembly took its surprise turn.
Maurantonio, who teaches language arts, science, math and social studies, is a leader in implementing effective teaching methods and is a Professional Learning Community Facilitator in the district, where she has engaged five elementary schools in how to implement writing workshops to teacher English Language Arts. Struggling readers in Maurantonio's classes make up two year's worth of gains in reading scores under her guidance due to her expertise in implementing a variety of proven English Language Arts approaches, including reading and writing workshops and peer-to-peer instruction.
"I just want to thank all my students, families, colleagues, and administrators," Maurantonio said at the assembly after learning of the award. "I couldn't be here without you."
She maintains close ties with colleagues locally, in her previous schools in New York City where her classroom was used as a model, and at Teachers College of Columbia University. She is respected for her expertise and her ability to collaborate to enhance teaching methods and improve student outcomes. Maurantonio has earned Professional Certification in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education and Students with Disabilities, giving her a "whole child" perspective on student development. In addition, she helps train future teachers in literacy strategies as an adjunct instructor at University at Albany-SUNY.
"I couldn't believe that was me," she told members of the news media after the assembly. "There's so many wonderful educators that I work with, I couldn't imagine I was the one that would be chosen."
Maurantonio graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a B.S. in early childhood education. She received an M.S. in reading, writing and literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in educational leadership from New York University.
The Milken Family Foundation first presented the Milken Educator Awards in 1987. Recipients can use their $25,000 award in any way they choose. Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. More than $137 million in funding, including over $65 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers.
Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Awards are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.
Past recipients have used their Awards to finance their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.
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For information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/newsroom/media-kit or call MFF at (310) 570-4775. Like the Awards at www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards, follow us at www.twitter.com/milken and watch the reaction videos at www.youtube.com/milkenaward.
The Milken Educator Awards program, created by the Milken Family Foundation, was launched 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.