Alumni Teachers Receive National, State Awards
The Milken Educator Award is described as the teaching profession’s equivalent to an Oscar or Grammy. It is the premier recognition for “the true unsung heroes on the frontlines of shaping our future.” NMU alumna and Escanaba native Amy (Beauchamp) Stanislowski is one of 40 educators nationwide honored with an unrestricted $25,000 prize for excellent and innovative instruction. She teaches third grade at Dodge Literacy Magnet Elementary School in Wichita, Kan.
Like all recipients of the Milken Educator Award, Stanislowski was surprised with the announcement at an all-school assembly.
“We knew something was going to happen because a representative from the Kansas State Board of Education and our district superintendent were there, but I had no clue it was this,” said the 2008 NMU grad. “I was shocked and extremely grateful. It’s nice to be appreciated and have your hard work validated. I went into education because I love kids and wanted to make a difference in their lives. Sometimes it gets hard with budget cuts and state assessments, but this award revitalizes you and reignites your passion for the profession.”
Stanislowski’s teaching style, as described on her Milken profile, parallels many of the same qualities that have come to define an NMU education. She welcomes each of her third graders with a hug; Northern is known for outstanding personal attention to students. She hosted a movie day fundraiser to help students from two tornado-ravaged schools; NMU promotes community service. After her class read a story about a girl in Ghana, Stanislowski motivated students to raise money to purchase a water buffalo for a family in that African nation; NMU encourages students to demonstrate inspired leadership and adopt a global perspective. When a new teacher struggled with classroom management skills, Stanislowski spent a weekend coaching her colleague; NMU values mentoring and collaboration.
“I loved Northern,” she said. “There were so many great professors there and I look back at how much I learned from them. I did my student teaching in Manhattan (Kan.), got the job in Wichita and stayed. I think it’s evident I love what I do. My students feel it every day and are excited to come here. Some come from rough home lives and I want them to feel safe and loved while they’re at school.”
Teachers do not apply for the Milken award, but are recommended by a panel appointed by each state’s department of education. As a recipient, Stanislowski will join the nationwide Milken Educator Network. What are her plans for the $25,000? She may apply some toward medical expenses associated with the impending April birth of her first child with husband, Aaron, an NMU economics graduate. She may also help some students and fund courses toward her doctorate. Watch the video of Lowell Milken surprising Stanislowski with her award at the assembly here.
Alumna Angela Danison, a third-grade teacher in Chassell, received the Michigan Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Teacher of the Year Award. She was recognized by her local VFW chapter before progressing through district and state judging. As the Michigan winner, Danison was placed into consideration for the national awards contest.
VFW annually recognizes the nation’s top elementary, junior high and high school teachers who regularly incorporate citizenship education topics and effectively promote America’s history and traditions. Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism are prime candidates for the award.