by Frank Schroth
The Milken award is special. And the accolades and the check (It’s a lot of money!) that accompany it are special. But what was really special yesterday was the spontaneous and exuberant cheer that rose like a roar from the students when Mr. Moonan, a Pierce Middel School math teacher’s name was announced and the humble, heartfelt remarks that he made. There were tears among some in the crowd – that’s how special it was.
The Milken Awards are “Oscars” for teachers. They are one of the philanthropic initiatives of Lowell Milken.There are not very many given, only 26,000 teachers and principals have received it since 1987 given. The selection process is confidential and the awards are a tightly kept secret until the moment they are announced.
No one saw this coming. But it is a tremendous honor and so it was that state officials including State Senator Joyce, Representatives Timilty and Cullinane, and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mitchell Chester, were on hand along with representatives of the Milken Foundation and Pierce teachers and students. (You can learn more about the educator awards here.)
Dr. Jane Foley of the Milken Foundation said that she was present to share a message about the “critical role teachers play in our society . . . ” and that it was the goal of Lowell Milken to honor “outstanding educators who have the power to influence thousands of children.” After her introductory remarks Ms Foley was joined by a small group of students. Each was handed a number. Holding the placards that amounted to $25, Ms. Foley asked an 8th grader. “What can you do with $25?” “Add some more zeroes to it,” was the response. And they did. The no strings attached award of $25,000 went to Mr. Moonan who said, “It’s not ‘how smart is the student,’ but ‘how is the student smart.” Moonan does not expect students to learn how he teaches, it is up to him to teach in the way a student learns. “It is the best job in the world,” he said.
Dr. Spaulding, principal of Pierce, said that the assembled had come to honor Mr. Moonan, to honor his teaching, his humbleness, and “his strong advocacy for his students and their families . . . Thank you for your passion and commitment to teaching.”
Yes, thank you indeed.
Following are some photos to the event and a video of the announcement.
You can watch the announcement here. Video courtesy of the Milken Foundation.