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Clayton County Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

 Click for a video of the announcement    MEDIA CONTACTS : Matt Cardoza,  mcardoza@gadoe.org , (404) 651-7358 or Keisha Ford-Jenrette,  kford@gadoe.org  (404) 657-2949    October 21, 2011  -- Shekema Silveri, a teacher at Mount Zion High in Clayton County Public Schools, was named Georgia's 2011 National Milken Educator of the Year. This prestigious national recognition from the Milken Family Foundation comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000. Milken Family Foundation’s Senior Vice-President Dr. Jane Foley and State School Superintendent Dr. John D. Barge were among the leaders who participated in the surprise celebration held at the school today.   Dubbed “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards program was conceived by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Educator Awards have no formal nomination or application process. Each year exceptional teachers, principals and specialists—recommended without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education—are surprised with the news of their awards.   “This is a tremendous honor that was given today to a very deserving teacher," said Superintendent Barge. "I congratulate Ms. Silveri and thank the Milken Foundation for using their resources for such a great cause – recognizing those who teach and inspire our students.”    ABOUT THE WINNER   Ms. Shekema Silveri is an incredibly gifted teacher who truly exemplifies what a new millennium educator should be. She engages her students in highly rigorous and intellectually stimulating performance tasks and pushes them to embrace their own learning experiences. Ms. Silveri is an out-of-the-box thinker and encourages her students to be visionaries and change agents for themselves and their environment.   In Ms. Silveri’s class, 100% of her students passed the End of Course Test for American Literature. Six of the eleven students at Mt. Zion who passed Advanced Placement Exams came from Ms. Silveri’s class.   In an effort to promote international cultural awareness and promote rigorous discussion on the issues of race in America, Mrs. Silveri tracked down a Dutch activist and speaker, Mr. Jacob Holdt, to visit Mt. Zion High School. Normally only a speaker at distinguished Universities, Mr. Holdt accepted the invitation, eager to speak to a younger audience that was primarily African American. Students were highly engaged in the presentation and discussion and came out with a broader world view and a keener sense of how race is viewed in our society.   A student was asked “Why do you love Ms. Silveri?” The student answered, “Because she loves us. She told us at the beginning of year that she was giving us her all because she loves us, and I appreciate and love her for that.”    ABOUT THE AWARD   Since first presented in 1987 to a dozen California teachers, the Milken Educator Awards has grown to become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards. In addition to the cash awards, new recipients have the opportunity to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of distinguished educators whose expertise serves as a valuable resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education. The awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary educators.   Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected on the basis of the following criteria:  · Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;  · Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;  · Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;  · Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.