Providence teacher receives prestigious ‘Milken Award’

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence teacher received a big surprise on Tuesday morning after finding out she won a prestigious award that only a few dozen teachers nationwide receive.

Third grade teacher Michelle Johnson was awarded the “Milken Educator Award” for her influence on student growth and success at Fogarty Elementary School in Providence. The awards are considered the “Oscars of Teaching,” and come with at $25,000 cash prize.

“I’m speechless right now, so I just want to say thank you so much, this means a lot to me, thank you thank you,” Johnson said upon receiving the award,

Johnson led Fogarty’s adoption of “Blended Learning,” which combines digital learning with traditional methods to achieve the best results in her classroom.

Although all her students began the last school year behind in reading, they have now met third-grade expectations by reaching grade level by the end of the year.

“By providing the tools to assist her ESL learners in mastering English, she is opening doors of knowledge that her students couldn’t have possibly imagined,” Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley said.

At the end of the year, Johnson throws a party for students and families where they celebrate bringing the future one step closer to her diverse group of English language learners.

“At a time when our state’s population of English Learners continues to grow, we need EL teacher leaders like Michelle Johnson,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Ken Wagner. 

Johnson is the only teacher in Rhode Island to receive the award this year.

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