West Feliciana Parish educator won 2018-2019 Milken Educator Award, $25,000

Stephanie Whetstone, who teaches fifth-grade math and science at Bains Elementary School, was one of 33 educators nationwide to receive the Milken Educator Award.

The award site says of Whetstone:

Step into Stephanie Whetstone’s fifth-grade classroom at Bains Elementary School in Louisiana’s West Feliciana Parish and you’ll find students spread out on the floor, balancing on stability balls or working at standing desks while Whetstone teaches a small group at her horseshoe-shaped table.

Whetstone leaves no student behind in her science and math lessons, using a combination of small groups, individualized instruction and common formative assessments. That’s how she identifies students in need, diagnoses the misunderstanding and helps them meet their targets. Bains is a Leader in Me Lighthouse School, with building school culture centered around the program’s “Seven Habits of Happy Kids.”

An early adopter, Whetstone embraces these habits and reinforces them in her classroom. Her students take responsibility for their learning and behavior, and they understand her expectations. Peer instruction plays a large part in Whetstone’s classroom, and she insists that students learn how to teach and learn from each other.

Her methods work: Under Whetstone’s guidance, students’ scores on Louisiana’s LEAP (Louisiana Educational Assessment Program) tests rose from 75.3 to 94.8 in math and from 77.3 to 87.9 in science.

Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, awarded Whetstone personally as West Feliciana Parish’s first Milken Educator and presented her with a $25,000 check.

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Along with the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2018-19 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans, Louisiana, March 21-24, 2019. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

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