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Peaks Mill Elementary teacher Angie Beavin earns prestigious $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Fifth-grade teacher Angie Beavin knows how to meet the needs of her students at Peaks Mill Elementary in Frankfort, and it all starts with reading.

As the saying goes, reading is fundamental, but in the contemporary classroom you could add that data helps get the job done. Beavin is an enthusiastic proponent of the Public Education and Business Coalition’s “Thinking Strategies” method, as she builds a love of reading and an inquiry-driven approach into every lesson, which serves to promote independent thinking and learning.

A National Board Certified educator, Beavin relies heavily on assessment data to help struggling students exceed benchmarks and to challenge high achievers. It’s working. Peaks Mill has gone from the lowest-performing elementary building in Franklin County Schools to the highest, with Beavin’s students delivering the best math and reading growth in the district.

Surrounded by cameras and microphones, Angie Beavin talks with reporters at her surprise Milken Educator Award notification. “I love teaching,” she said. “They [students] need me and I need them.” (Photo provided)

But it was Beavin’s teaching prowess receiving high marks this morning at a surprise school assembly where she was presented with a Milken Educator Award by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken and Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Wayne D. Lewis Jr. An appreciative Beavin was named a 2018-19 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Kentucky this year, and is among the 33 honorees nationally.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 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.”

Boosting at-risk students with community outreach to meet the high expectations she has for all of her pupils, Beavin engages children and their families in the classroom and beyond. Her broad commitment to engagement extends to her colleagues as well. Something of an instructional practices guru, Beavin leads professional development at Peaks Mill, presents at faculty meetings and mentors fellow teachers, sharing resources and instructional strategies to lift staff, students and community.

“A talented, caring and strategic teacher like Angie Beavin develops lifelong learners who can think independently,” said Milken. “And that’s why America’s future gets brighter every day in her classroom, one motivated and inquisitive student at a time.”

“Angie Beavin is committed to doing whatever it takes to ignite the passion, potential and possibility in each and every one of her students,” said Lewis. “I look forward to working with her over the next year to promote teaching as a profession across the Commonwealth. She is an extraordinary example of teaching excellence in Kentucky, and we are incredibly grateful for all that she gives to her students, school, and the teaching profession.”

“Angie Beavin is an incredibly dedicated and student-centered teacher,” said Mark Kopp, Superintendent of Franklin County Schools. “She has created a welcoming classroom that provides an exciting, enriching learning environment for her students. We are blessed beyond words to have her as a team member of our district, and she is incredibly deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Beavin’s first goal for her fifth-graders each year: instill in them a true love of reading. Beavin has led the school’s adoption of the Public Education and Business Coalition’s “Thinking Strategies,” an inquiry-based teaching philosophy that infuses every lesson, including the year’s opening focus, on reading.

Beavin gets to know each pupil’s hobbies and passions and recommends books she thinks will resonate with them. Students keep individual reading journals in which they take notes about how the text relates to themselves and the world. Beavin encourages them to notice and capture the things they’re wondering about while they’re reading, leaving what she calls a “trail of thinking.” She introduces concepts like inferring, visualizing, determining importance and synthesizing as students read and discuss texts in small literature circles, or “Book Clubs.” Beavin’s students run her classroom: Her focus is teaching them to become independent thinkers and learners, with rigorous standards rooted in respect and concern for all.

Beavin is Peaks Mill’s go-to educator for instructional practices. The first in the building to go through the Thinking Strategies training, Beavin shared her takeaways with colleagues; her energy and enthusiasm for the program became a driving force for its adoption. She leads professional development, presents at faculty meetings and mentors fellow teachers, providing resources and instructional strategies.

The school and district frequently send observers to Beavin’s classroom during peer learning labs, which include both pre- and post-observation meetings. A National Board Certified educator who has taught both third and fifth grade, Beavin has served on the program review and curriculum committees as well as the hiring and teacher leadership teams. She relies heavily on assessment data to understand each student’s needs, helping struggling students to exceed benchmarks and challenging high achievers. Peaks Mill has gone from the lowest-performing elementary building in Franklin County Schools to the highest, with Beavin’s students delivering the best math and reading growth in the district.

Beavin’s current role includes working to reach Peaks Mill’s at-risk students. Her summer professional development included strategies for engaging students of poverty and their families. Beavin encouraged fellow teachers to participate in an outreach program, gathering in local parking lots for food, games and other activities designed to promote trust. She coordinates summer home visits and welcomes family members into her classroom. To show parents what student achievement looks like, Beavin mimics her peer learning labs, bringing parents in for classroom observation periods sandwiched by pre- and post-conferences. Parents often comment on the impact Beavin has on their children, whose leadership qualities shine long after they leave her classroom.

Beavin earned a bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s in 2012 from Georgetown College.

From Milken Educator Awards

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