Neal Cronkite (B.S.’06, Elementary Education) will do just about anything to cut through the mental clutter and connect with his fifth-grade math and science students at Michigan's Washington Woods Middle School. Whether it's adopting a scientist persona, employing a high-technology smart board in his class or even strumming tunes on his guitar, Cronkite is willing to do whatever it takes to rock his students' world.
But it was Cronkite who was looking fully engaged this morning at a surprise school assembly as State Chief Deputy Superintendent of Education Sheila Alles and Milken Family Foundation Senior Program Administrator Greg Gallagher named him as the newest recipient of a Milken Educator Award. The national recognition comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Cronkite is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Michigan this year, and is among the 44 honorees for 2017-18.
The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching" has been opening minds and shaping futures for 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, "The future belongs to the educated."
A STEM education aficionado who's a regular at technology conferences, Cronkite not only incorporates what he learns into his lessons but also shares the insights he gleans and classroom tech tips with his colleagues. Cronkite is equally engaged with non-technology aspects of learning, promoting empathy, teamwork, leadership and other life skills both within the classroom and beyond. When he's not soliciting critiques from administrators to improve his own teaching chops, he's leading extracurricular activities like the Stampede Running Club or working with the school district's teacher leadership teams.
Read more about the award, here.
Read more about Neal, here.
Story and Photo credit: Milken Family Foundation