2023 Lowell Milken Center Fellows are outstanding teachers that have been awarded the National Lowell Milken Center Fellowship.
There are six fellows the week of June 18 – 23:
Amy Page, Chris Dier, Darrion Cockrell, Heather Whitaker, Kevin Dailey, and Lacy Rivera.
Following iare the bios of each teacher.
Amy Page, a high school history teacher in Moriarty, NM, was the 2022 Patricia Behring National History Day Teacher of the Year. She also received New Mexico’s 2020 History Teacher of the Year Award by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and was named to the prestigious James Madison Fellowship. Her focus on teaching students the importance of using primary sources in their research played an important role in her receiving these awards.
Amy’s emphasis on Project Based Learning and her experience with National History Day have led to engaging students in historical learning. Her creative use of primary sources and implementation of active learning strategies have helped foster historical thinking skills within her students. Amy celebrates every victory along the way for her students, whether it is finding a much-sought-after primary source or winning a national award.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “We are thrilled to have Amy join us as a 2023 LMC Fellow. Her vast experience with historical research, primary sources, and Project Based Learning will be an invaluable resource to our team. What a perfect fit with the work of the Lowell Milken Center.”
Chris Dier was named the 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, a 2020 National Teacher of the Year Finalist, and the 2021 Louisiana History Teacher of the Year. He currently teaches social studies at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, but previously taught for 10 years in St. Bernard Parish, LA.
Chris is passionate about providing an equitable and multicultural education to all of his students. He has been featured in numerous publications and outlets which recognized his work in the classroom, and as a Hollyhock Fellow at Stanford University, he was part of a program that brought educators together to create more inclusive classrooms. Based on much research, Chris authored the book, The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre: Blood in the Cane Fields. He often uses it to help his students understand complex historical events and learn from them in an effort to continue to bridge racial divides.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Chris’s powerful research and his understanding of history’s impact on our world today make him a perfect fit for the Lowell Milken Center’s Fellowship. We know he will have much to share in our search for Unsung Heroes and Role Models from history.”
Darrion Cockrell, a PE teacher who is lovingly called Mr. DC by his elementary students, was the 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year, with the added distinction of being Missouri’s first Black Male Educator of the Year. Additionally, he was honored to receive the 2020 National Box Tops for Education Twilight Award. Having taught at Crestwood Elementary since 2015, Darrion has been an inspiration and role model to his students and fellow staff. His innovative and creative programs include “Crest-Fit” training, a health and fitness program for students with teacher and parent involvement.
Building personal relationships with his students and sharing his own life’s story has helped Darrion motivate and connect with each of his students. When students hear of Darrion’s rough years as a foster child and gang member and see his current success as a caring teacher and loving husband and dad, they learn that they, too, have the opportunity to overcome the challenges they may face in life.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Darrion is an outstanding educator whose ability to connect with students makes him a much-needed role model for their lives. His leadership, coupled with his innovative ideas, will bring new and positive energy to our team of Fellows.”
Heather Whitaker, an Alternative Education teacher at Gorham Middle School in Gorham, ME.
was the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year. She started her school’s garden, which donates 1000 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She was also a founding member of the Gorham Backpack program, which provides food for chronically hungry students in the community. Heather’s alternative education students actively volunteer in both programs.
By promoting the combination of learning opportunities with community needs, Heather provides many real-life experiences for her students. As a strong advocate for struggling students, she uses restorative practices to design meaningful projects for her students, which leads to powerful learning experiences.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Heather is an outstanding addition to our team of LMC Fellows. Her experience in the alternative school setting will bring many new ideas for teachers in helping struggling students embrace the opportunities to find positive role models in real-life situations. We look forward to having Heather on our team.”
Kevin Dailey, a middle school history teacher at Ballyshannon Middle School, was the 2021 Milken Educator from Kentucky. He is known by colleagues for his unwavering support for students, combined with all he gives back to the community while instilling the importance of being good citizens. Kevin advocates for all students through his emphasis on fact-based instruction and equity in education.
His emphasis on writing, speaking, listening and reading skills in his classroom help his students recognize the importance of those skills for future academic, personal and professional success. He collaborates with a science colleague for a project-based learning program called Project Citizen, which teaches students about public policy and helps them understand how they can work with community and government leaders to make change possible. Students leave his classroom with a strong foundation that sets them up for positive experiences in high school.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “We are thrilled to have Kevin as one of our 2023 Fellows.” His history classes’ creative and inclusive projects mesh well with the Center’s Discovery Award projects and emphasis on Project Based Learning. He will have many great ideas to share with our team this year.”
Lacy Rivera, a 6th grade teacher at Sundance Elementary in Los Lunas, NM, was the 2019 New Mexico Milken Educator. Her previous experience included teaching high school English and serving as a Professional Learning Coach. The relationships she built with so many teachers and students helped strengthened her collaborative skills with colleagues, as well as her own teaching skills when she made the transition back to the classroom at Sundance Elementary.
Working with curriculum is one of Lacy’s strengths, enabling her to engage in very critical ideas of learning, while encouraging students to look at society and define their roles within it. With Lacy’s guidance, students learn to analyze critically and express themselves powerfully. Lacy will be moving to 4th grade this fall, hoping to reinforce her belief that elementary students can be empowered through stories, especially stories of the past, which embolden them to take action today and envision a brighter future for tomorrow.
LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “We look forward to working with Lacy during the 2023 LMC Fellowship. Her experience as both a classroom educator and a Professional Learning Coach will bring an important skill set to our team. We are thrilled that she will be joining us this year.”
While in Fort Scott, LMC Fellows gain knowledge, educational resources and support in helping students cultivate a passion for learning through the creation of projects that initiate positive change. Fellows will be equipped to develop Unsung Heroes projects with their students, applying and evaluating the stories of these role models who have changed the world throughout history.