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Gendron Presents $25,000 Milken Award to Auburn Teacher
Surprise! Michelle Gagne receives the prestigious award in front of students and colleagues
October 14, 2008
AUBURN – An elementary school classroom teacher in her eighth year of teaching was surprised at a surprise all-school assembly Tuesday morning with the presentation of a prestigious national teaching award, and a check for $25,000. Maine Department of Education Commissioner Susan A. Gendron presented the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award to Michelle Gagne in front of colleagues at the Sherwood Heights School and her first and second grade students, along with all the students at the school.
The Milken Educator Awards, conceived by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession, have grown to become the nation's largest teacher recognition program. Including this year’s selections, since 1987 over $60 million has been awarded to over 2,300 educators. New recipients will 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.
Gendron said the prestigious award is a way of recognizing classroom teachers, whose work often goes unnoticed, but is always appreciated.
“Mrs. Gagne is known to her fellow teachers for her creativity and for her ability to solve any problem put in front of her,” Gendron said. “She is an excellent role model for the students at Sherwood Heights School, and she has ‘pizzazz’.”
Gagne has designed two programs from scratch to encourage positive classroom attitudes and to reinforce learning. With “Belief Building Vocabulary” she encourages students to use words like “confidence,” “self-control” and “expectations.” This not only provides a framework for their behavior from the beginning of the school year, but also for the quality of their work for the entire school year. She established “Yearlong Curriculum Routines” by designing developmentally appropriate routines that all students can master and repeat. The consistency acts as a safety net for struggling students, while allowing more capable students to advance at their own pace.
Gagne is currently involved in district level curriculum committees for math, science, and social studies. She serves as a mentor teacher for students in the many different phases of the University of Southern Maine’s Collaborative Learning and School Success Program offered at Lewiston Auburn College. She has been recognized by the Auburn School Department’s System Drop out Prevention Committee. She was nominated for the Disney Hands teacher recognition program in 2003 and Mrs. Gagne was one of the state finalists for 2009 Maine Teacher of the Year.
Gagne received her BA in English from Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vermont in 1988, and her K-8 teaching certification from the University of Southern Maine in 2001.
Gendron also read from a letter sent by Gov. John Baldacci, who was unable to participate in the event. He wrote: “On behalf of the people of Maine, congratulations to you for displaying the kind of imagination and leadership that gives children a sense of excitement, a thirst for knowledge and a real chance for success.”
David Connerty-Marin, Director of Communications, 207-624-6880 | Jennifer Pooler, Milken Coordinator, 207-624-6638
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