Double Churches Elementary teacher
inspires students to maximize potential every day
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1, 2016 – Double Churches Elementary School teacher Eric
Crouch did a double take when he was surprised yesterday with a $25,000 Milken
Educator Award during an all-school assembly. Crouch started teaching fifth
grade at the school this year after having previously taught first-grade and
serving as first-grade level chair.
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr.
Jane Foley, First Lady Sandra Deal, State School Superintendent Richard Woods
and Muscogee County School District Superintendent Dr. David F. Lewis
participated in the dramatic build-up to the announcement of the exciting news.
Crouch is the only recipient of the Milken Educator Award for Georgia this
year, and he is among up to 35 honorees who will receive the prestigious honor
nationwide for 2016-17.
This season marks the 30th year of the Milken
Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching.”
“The number-one factor in students’ success is a
great teacher in the classroom, and Mr. Crouch exemplifies that,”
Superintendent Woods said. “He goes above and beyond in the classroom, creating
a safe, fun, challenging and imaginative space for learning, and his students
benefit as a result. I am so pleased he has been recognized with the
prestigious Milken Educator Award.”
“Eric Crouch creates an exciting classroom where
students are motivated to reach their potential every day,” said Foley. “A technology superstar, Eric uses the latest
tools to make learning engaging and connect with students’ families.”
Foley continued, “His classroom rule is ‘Make Mr.
Crouch proud of you.’ On behalf of the Milken Family Foundation, we are proud
of you, Mr. Crouch, and your potential to have an even greater impact on the
teaching profession for generations to come.”
In his classroom, Crouch pushes students to strive
for excellence. When he taught first grade, his students read and passed
comprehension tests to meet their daily goals. Crouch handed out medals—and
then stretched the goal for the next day. In his first-grade classroom, he rang
a cowbell and shouted out students’ accomplishments, which built peer
excitement and offered recognition for student achievement. Now, he has
students slam-dunk balls into a trash can when they meet their goals. When the
can is filled, the class has a large celebration to mark reaching their
collective goals. For example, in literacy, Crouch’s first-grade students read
more than 35 million words and checked out nearly 50,000 books. Crouch
continues to instill a passion for reading among his fifth-grade students. In
just nine weeks, they have read six million words—and counting.
During his five-year tenure in teaching, Crouch has
already developed a solid track record of helping his students progress. According to anecdotal data, in 2014-15, 100%
of Crouch’s first-grade students met or exceeded goals in reading, writing,
mathematics, science and social studies. Many students at the high-need school,
which serves primarily military families and sees high rates of transition in
the classroom, read above grade level.
In the fifth grade, Crouch is preparing his students
for the rigor of the state standards by working them toward answering questions
critically, thoughtfully, and learning curriculum in creative ways. He is
allowing his students to see connections across the curriculum by integrating
social studies with reading and science. In the nine-week period guiding his
class, he has already seen significant improvements in performance. When he
started teaching the fifth grade, 13 students were below-tier level; that
number has decreased to five, with progress still underway.
Crouch is a strong advocate for technology in the
classroom and uses it both for learning and to build bridges with families. He
gathers formative assessment results daily and informs parents of their
children’s progress via email, text, newsletters, FaceTime and social media.
Students use iPads to scan QR codes that lead them to classroom assignments.
Colleagues say Crouch is always working to help students “get it” and motivate
Determined to bring 21st-century technology into his
classroom, Crouch has funded more than 50 projects through DonorsChoose.org, a crowdfunding website
through which public school teachers solicit donations from corporations and
individuals. Target, News Corp and ESPN are among the companies that have
helped Crouch buy photographic equipment, standing desks, iPads and a 3-D
printer, which he has used for the first and fifth grade. Recognized as among
the site’s most successful fundraisers, Crouch and his first-grade class were
featured on a DonorsChoose.org billboard
ad in Times Square. Crouch has shared his fundraising expertise with his
colleagues, coaching them as they submit their own requests through the site.
An avid carpenter, Crouch built an indoor stage,
bookshelves, and a wooden boat for his first-grade classroom; he filled the
boat with pillows and handmade wooden tables to give students a fun place to
read and talk about books. Hand-painted stars and constellations covered the
ceiling above the stage. His fifth-grade students are also benefiting from his
love of carpentry; he has built large tables for his classroom for students to
collaborate on a new level.
Crouch’s influence in teaching excellence extends
beyond the classroom. He is a member of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s Teacher
Advisory Committee and State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ Teacher
Crouch received a Bachelor of Science in early
childhood education from Columbus State University and a Master of Education in
early childhood education from Troy University. Committed to sharing his
education technology expertise, Crouch has led workshops for teachers in the
Muscogee County School District and teaches “Technology in the Classroom” as a
guest instructor at Columbus State University. He is currently pursuing his
doctoral degree at Columbus State University in educational leadership.
More information about Crouch, plus links to photos
and a video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards
website at http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/eric-crouch.
Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career
for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.
In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Crouch’s honor
includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more
than 2,700 top principals, teachers and specialists dedicated to strengthening
In addition to participation in the Milken Educator
Network, 2016-17 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum this spring in
New Orleans. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new
colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about the importance of
maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.
More than $138 million in funding, including $68
million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards
program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities
throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and
be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.
The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and
secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken
Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are
sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue
ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most
exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken
Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their
children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed
dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of
To get regular updates on the surprise Milken
Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook,
Twitter and Instagram. The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards,
www.twitter.com/milken, www.youtube.com/milkenaward, and http://instagram.com/milkenfamilyfdn.
For more information about the Milken Educator
Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org
or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.
the Milken Educator Awards
The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken
Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. The Awards provide public recognition
and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school
teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering
excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for
what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.