Indianapolis assistant principal latest IU School of Education alum to earn 'Oscar for Teaching'
Representatives from the Milken Family Foundation surprised Indiana University School of Education alumna Candace Ewing on Thursday by presenting her with the 2012 Milken Educator Award, one of just 40 handed out across the nation every year.
Ewing, who earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 2004 and a master's degree in 2008 from the IU School of Education in Bloomington, reacted with shock. But those who nominated her for the award that carries a $25,000 cash prize were not surprised.
Teacher Magazine dubbed the Milken Educator Awards the "Oscars of Teaching." Education reform leader Lowell Milken created the award in 1985 to celebrate, elevate and activate excellence in the profession. The Milken Foundation has honored more than 2,500 K-12 teachers, principals and specialists coast to coast with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards.
The first two Indiana teachers to earn the Milken Educator Award, in 1993, were IU School of Education alumni Terrance Levenda, Portage High School principal, and Francis Mustapha, a teacher in Fort Wayne. Since then, a large portion of Indiana Milken Award recipients have been IU School of Education alumni. Including Ewing, the 22nd graduate to win the honor, five alumni have received the Milken Educator Award in the past five years: Wilson Reyes, BS'85, in 2011; Chris Kates, BS'00, MS'11, in 2008; Nicole Law, BS'94, also in 2008; and Jeff Rudkin, BS'85, MS'89, in 2007.
Milken Award recipients are selected by a committee based on criteria that includes effective instructional practices, student performance in the classroom and individual educational accomplishments outside the classroom. Nominations come from state departments of education and are considered by the foundation's committee.
Ewing is assistant principal of Snacks Crossing Elementary School in the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township, where she has also served as instructional coach and a kindergarten teacher. She grew up in Indianapolis, attending Pike Township schools. Colleagues at Snacks Crossing said she showed great leadership at the school while having a direct impact on students, leading in part to the school achieving Adequate Yearly Progress, the federal measurement of student standardized test achievement, for the first time in spring 2011.
The Milken Foundation cites Ewing's ability to differentiate instruction to meet students' needs as a primary reason for her selection.
"She was always eager to roll up her sleeves and participate in hands-on activities right with her students," reads Ewing's biography on the Milken website. "To fire up their interest in reading, she had them create a series of summer reading videos which have helped increase standardized test scores schoolwide. Ewing involves parents in nighttime Parent Universities, game nights and family reading nights. She also partners with local churches to secure tutors."
The results have been impressive. Her students increased scores on the Northwest Evaluation Assessment well above average. Now as an administrator, colleagues say, she helps inform instruction with data throughout the building.
"The fact that our graduates have received this outstanding national recognition at such a disproportionally high rate speaks volumes about the quality of their preparation at Indiana University and their effectiveness in the classroom," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the Milken Educator Award recipients and especially to Candace on being the sole 2012 award winner from Indiana."
During the assembly where she received the award, Ewing said that being honored for teaching in the township where she grew up was very special. She noted that since first going to the IU School of Education, she always wanted to return to teach in Pike Township.