|For Immediate Release|
|Wednesday, November 18, 2009|
|Contact:||Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112|
Dracut Teacher Surprised with National Honor and $25,000 Award
DRACUT - An unsuspecting eighth grade teacher was surprised with a 2009 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award and check for $25,000 during a school assembly in Dracut on Wednesday morning.
Rebecca Duda, who teaches 8th grade history/social studies at Lakeview Junior High School in Dracut, is the state's 37th Milken Award winner. She is one of 53 recipients nationwide in 2009-2010, joining more than 2,400 other national educators who have received the award. Known as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Milken awards were established to provide public recognition and individual rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary teachers, principals, and specialists who are furthering excellence in education.
Duda's award was presented by Dr. Jane Foley, the senior vice president for the Milken Family Foundation, and Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester.
"Rebecca sets the tone for the kind of passionate and committed teachers we strive to have in every classroom in the Commonwealth," said Governor Deval Patrick. "Her dedication to teaching is inspiring to us all, and I thank her for her service."
"One of the best parts of my job is going into schools and seeing teachers who really inspire their students, and Rebecca is definitely one of those teachers," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "The best educator is one who does whatever is necessary to reach every student and make a difference in their lives. Rebecca is one of those teachers and we are lucky to have her."
In nominating her for the award, Vice Principal Frank D'Addario noted that Duda takes a "creative" approach in teaching even the most mundane areas of the curriculum, frequently brings in guest speakers and incorporates hands-on activities in her work. He credited her energy and enthusiasm for motivating even the most reluctant students to understand, learn and appreciate history and social studies in a new way.
"We are lucky in Massachusetts to have so many outstanding educators and I wish we had the ability to recognize and honor each and every one of them," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Rebecca is a great example of one of our finest, and I congratulate her on this well-deserved honor."
Recipients each receive a check for $25,000, a trip to Los Angeles for a conference and awards ceremony, and membership in the network of previous Milken winners.
Massachusetts' recipients are selected by an independent statewide Blue Ribbon panel of principals, teachers and other educators. Predetermined criteria for the award include exceptional educational talent and promise, skill in developing innovative and creative curricula and programs, commitment to professional development, and ability to instill self-confidence in students.
For more information on the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards program, visit the Foundation's website at www.mff.org.