D.C. educator Jenelle Bryant brought home one of the nation’s top teacher recognition awards, $25,000 and praise from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Oprah Winfrey during a Milken Educator Award assembly at Seaton Elementary School on Thursday.
Bryant, a reading recovery specialist, received the award for her work in helping her K-1 students master needed literacy skills.
She is the only educator in the District to receive the honor this year, with good reason.
“Nearly 90% of students who complete Bryant’s classwork no longer need her support by the end of the school year,” the award organization said.
The awards group added that Bryant’s “discontinuation rate” — how many students no longer need her help with reading — is at 88%, “significantly higher than both D.C. Public Schools and the nation.”
The reading specialist was surprised when she received the award, asking her students to give her a pinch “because I feel like I’m in a dream!”
“My family are immigrants, and I am my grandparents’ dream,” Bryant said. “You can do anything you want to do, just like I’m doing what I want to do.”
Watch what Oprah had to say:
The Howard University alumna also earned praise from State Superintendent of Education Christina Grant for her use of innovative techniques and mentorship of other educators.
“Jenelle’s expertise is vital to ensuring a strong recovery for our students after the pandemic,” Grant said. “Thank you, Jenelle, and congratulations on receiving the Milken Educator Award for the District of Columbia.”
Jane Foley, the senior vice president for the educator awards, presented the award to Bryant in front of her school’s student body alongside district staff and the school’s principal Suzie Jacobs. Foley praised the trust and respect that Bryant’s students and their families feel.
“Learning how to read proficiently is one of the greatest gifts a teacher can pass along to her students,” Foley said. “Jenelle Bryant works with young learners to give them confidence at an early age, setting them up for success throughout their entire education.”
“I hope this recognition gives me the power to do more, and to use my voice to get these children what they deserve and need.”—#MilkenAward winner Jenelle Bryant @SeatonDC @dcpublicschools @mmk3815 @OSSEDC @DCSuptGrant @Milken_jfoley #DCPS #DCLovesTeachers #OSSELovesTeachers pic.twitter.com/9tOePOoDHo
— Milken Family Fdn (@Milken) May 12, 2022
Bryant earned her bachelor’s in human development at Howard University in 2012 and graduated with a master’s in early childhood education one year later. She chairs Seaton Elementary’s equity committee, leads professional development and anti-bias training and mentors other reading specialists in the region through the D.C. Reading Clinic.
More than 60 teachers nationwide received Milken Educator Awards this year. The Milken Family Foundation has been recognizing educators since 1987.
Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.
© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.