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Romney Joins in Surprise Presentations of National Educator Awards to Top Massachusetts Teachers

Location: Randolph and Dorchester, MA

Two Massachusetts teachers receive $25,000 Milken Educator Awards

In separate surprise ceremonies this morning, Governor Mitt Romney joined students, teachers and local officials at Randolph High School in Randolph and Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester to honor two unsuspecting teachers with $25,000 Milken Educator Awards.

Known as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Milken National Educator Awards recognize the most exceptional teachers in the country, who are recommended and selected without their knowledge by a statewide panel of superintendents, teachers and other education association representatives. This is the ninth year Massachusetts has participated in the program.

During two schoolwide assemblies, Jasmine Lellock of Randolph High School and Thabiti Brown of Codman Academy Charter School were surprised with the news of their $25,000 awards.

"Teachers like Jasmine Lellock and Thabiti Brown are critical to the success of our education initiatives and are doing an outstanding job preparing our children for future success in the classroom and the world," Romney said. "Teaching professionals are the backbone of our educational system and the best should be recognized and rewarded."

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll agreed.

"Too often the great work of our teachers goes unrecognized, so I am pleased we have this opportunity to recognize and honor two of our finest," he said. "The success of our students hinges on the strong leadership and commitment of dedicated and caring educators like Jasmine and Thabiti."

The Milken National Educator Awards reward teachers, principals and administrators who promote excellence and innovation in public education. English teacher Jasmine Lellock was recognized for her passionate and inspiring class lectures and discussions, and for forming the school's Shakespeare Ensemble. Now in its fourth year, with ever-growing membership, the ensemble has performed numerous Shakespeare productions to sell-out crowds.

In nearby Dorchester, humanities teacher and Academic Dean Thabiti Brown was honored for dramatic improvements he has made in student achievement at Codman Academy Charter School. He is known for taking students unprepared for high school and getting them ready for success at four-year colleges with innovative, project-based learning programs at Codman, in the community and internationally.

Last month, Governor Romney filed a comprehensive education reform package that included a provision calling for $65 million in awards to teachers statewide who meet high standards, perform exceptionally well and get their students to achieve at high levels. The bill called for the formation of a Commonwealth Teaching Corps of 1,000 math and science teachers who would be eligible for a $5,000 bonus at the end of each school year. A $5,000 bonus for math and science Advanced Placement teachers whose students performed well on the AP exams would be established and the bill would make all teachers eligible for a performance bonus, based on the success of their students and evaluations by their colleagues and supervisors.

"A key component of a quality education for our children is having dedicated and talented teachers," said Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation and co-chair of the Great Schools Campaign, an effort led by community leaders to advance education reform. "The success of future generations lies in the hands of these two inspiring educators. We salute them and their outstanding work with their students."

The two Massachusetts Milken Award winners will join the Milken Educator Network of over 2,100 top teachers. Through the network they will gain even more resources to build innovative, professional teaching in Massachusetts.

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