Oxon Hill Middle School science department chairman Angela Malone was totally surprised this morning (Feb. 17, 2016) when she was presented the prestigious Milken Educator Award.
When she walked into the school’s renovated gymnasium in Fort Washington, she thought it was abuzz with excitement because Interim State Superintendent Jack R. Smith and other dignitaries were visiting the school to congratulate them on their achievements. What Malone didn’t know was that the assembly was to award her with the prized navy blue envelope and a $25,000 check.
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley presented Malone the award in front of students, colleagues, media and distinguished officials.
Malone is among up to 40 educators who will receive the prestigious national honor during the Milken Family Foundation’s (MFF) coast-to-coast tour during the 2015-16 Awards season. MFF has been rewarding outstanding elementary and secondary educators since 1987. Malone is the 60th recipient in Maryland since the program was implemented here in 1993.
“Congratulations to Ms. Malone, her students, and Oxon Hill Middle School for this great achievement,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. “Maryland schools achieve great things due in large part to educators like Ms. Malone — a dedicated and innovative teacher who is committed to learning and the success of her students.”
Interim State Superintendent Smith agreed. “Angela brings energy, innovation and exceptional standards to her classroom every day, strengthening student achievement,” he said. “She exemplifies what it means to be a Maryland educator, and we are thrilled that the Milken Family Foundation is honoring her work and dedication.”
“Angela is a pro at marrying the arts with science,” Foley said. “As a trained actor, singer and dancer, she brings unique talents to her classroom and can relate to all students. She is also respected as a leader at Oxon Hill in its transition from STEM to STEAM. We are thrilled to welcome her into the Milken Educator family. I anticipate a wonderful future for this charismatic educator.”
Turning STEM into STEAM
As a member of the inaugural Arts Integration in the Classroom Committee and with a graduate course in arts integration under her belt, Malone has trained other teachers on how to integrate art into STEM, transforming it into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).
Malone uses student achievement data to plan differentiated learning activities and implement project-based learning that allows students to actively explore real world problems and acquire a deeper knowledge of a subject matter, according to a press release from the Milken Educator Awards. Students engage in innovative projects like making homemade ice cream to explore chemical and physical changes in matter.
When teaching the unit on Motion, Forces and Energy, Malone asked her students to design a car that would protect a raw egg traveling down an inclined plane. The students had a mock budget to purchase washers, aluminum foil, cotton balls, straws and other household materials to create this car. She even hosted a grade level competition to see which group created the best car, with students eager to explain their learning processes to classroom visitors. For a science team performance in a talent show, students rapped about learning in science while wearing safety goggles.
Malone has created a learning environment that insists on the students taking control and ownership of their learning while she acts as a facilitator. She maintains high expectations for achievement but also provides a roadmap for her students to attain those learning goals. She is able to measure their learning in an engaging manner utilizing technology. Students are even encouraged to use their own cell phones, for example, to conduct research.
Students exhibit a great deal of academic, social and emotional growth, which has led to a reduction in referrals to guidance and administrative personnel. It is this understanding and respect of adolescent learning styles that make Malone a model educator who is respected by her students.
Impacting the greater community, Malone hosted a PiDay on a weekend for over 200 students and community members and led workshops for parents and students during a STEM night. Her reputation is growing as district staff visit her classroom to observe her practices.
Malone earned a general studies degree in biology and philosophy from Dallas Baptist University in 1999 and post-baccalaureate teacher certification from LeTourneau University in 2014.
The Oscars of teaching
The Milken Educator Awards program has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.
Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Milken 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.
In addition to participation in the 2,600-strong national Milken Educator Network, 2015-16 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans next month. Milken Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal leaders about the importance of amplifying teacher voices to advance educator effectiveness.
This year, MFF launched a #MyTeacherRocks Instagram campaign that encourages students to take selfies with their favorite teacher and describe in the caption why their teacher is special. To enter the contest, entrants are asked to follow @MilkenFamilyFdn on Instagram, post their selfie to their individual account and use the #MyTeacherRocks and #MilkenAward hashtags. The second of the three winners was selected in February 2016. The third winner will be selected in April 2016.
Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation