Known for his dedication to his school and to the broader community, Paul Campbell ’10, BA elementary education, received payback in a big way when he was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award during an all-school assembly at Chester Valley Elementary in Anchorage, Alaska, Nov. 22.
The 30-year-old Campbell teaches a first- and second-grade “looped” classroom, which means that first graders remain with him in the second grade.
This season marks the 30th year of the Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching.” Campbell is among up to 35 educators who will receive the honor for the 2016-17 season. He is the only recipient from Alaska.
Campbell accepted the prestigious national recognition from Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Jane Foley who traveled from California to present the Award.
“Paul Campbell creates a nurturing, engaging environment where students are enthusiastic to learn,” said Foley. “Paul instills crucial skills of reflection, critical thinking and social-emotional awareness in his students, paving the way for them to succeed academically and in life. I am excited to watch him advance as a force in the teaching profession.”
Walk by Paul Campbell’s classroom at Chester Valley Elementary and you are likely to hear both teacher and students singing. Campbell, whose calm, positive demeanor keeps his students engaged, uses music to smooth classroom transitions like lining up or changing activities. His young readers also use songbooks to practice literacy skills, belting out favorites like Disney’s Let It Go with their teacher while reading the lyrics.
Campbell leads a warm, supportive classroom where students love to learn. A bearskin rug nicknamed “Bernard” covers the floor of the class reading nook; student-led fitness challenges keep learners motivated during afternoon literacy blocks. Campbell’s dynamic delivery inspires students to challenge themselves both in class and with extracurricular events like the reading-focused Battle of the Books. Campbell helps students overcome their academic insecurities by pointing out that real mathematicians and scientists ask questions, seek input from others and learn from their mistakes through problem-solving. Campbell also protects his students’ emotional safety; when one student was scared after a lockdown drill, Campbell pretended to be a grizzly bear whose mighty roar would scare off any intruders.
Campbell is from a family of educators and is a product of Anchorage School District, having graduated from West Anchorage High School. His commitment to the community is reflected in his participation in local events and connecting with his students’ families. He can be seen at the Fall Festival, Science Night and Skate Night (both roller-skating and ice-skating) as well as helps with the cross-country ski club, wrestling practice and managing the school’s salmon tank. An avid outdoorsman, Campbell takes his students into the community for orienteering excursions, ice-fishing and sled dog races.
Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Campbell’s honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top principals, teachers and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.
In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2016-17 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum this spring in New Orleans. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about the importance of maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.
More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.
The awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.
Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.