ROCKY POINT — A kindergarten and first grade teacher at Rocky Point Elementary school received the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday morning.
Jessica Barnette was led to believe she was celebrating her birthday in the Rocky Point gymnasium. Instead, it was The Milken Educator Awards. The awards, which the organization describes as the “Oscar of Teaching,” comes with a $25,000 unrestricted award.
Barnette was stunned by N.C. Superintendent Catherine Truitt and Milken Vice President Stephanie Bishop with the award Tuesday morning. One of 40 elementary school teachers in the country to receive the award, Barnette will become part of a network of 2,900 teachers and receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the awards forum in Los Angeles this April.
“Seeing success in one grade is tremendous, but Jessica’s excellent teaching skills have helped bring growth to her class of early learners in both kindergarten and first grade — a significant feat,” Bishop said in a press release. “Celebrating this Award together with a birthday is a special moment for all of us. We are proud of everything Jessica has done in her career and look forward to seeing her reach even greater heights.”
According to Milken, Barnette was chosen for a few reasons:
- Her research-based practices in the classroom, wherein she uses data to track measurable goals for her students.
- As a grade-level chair, she works with positive behavioral support for her students and helped Pender County Schools design a K-2 report; she is also credited with her flexibility during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- She focuses on relationships with students and families to make them feel safe and well cared for.
Barnette graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a bachelor’s degree in 2015 and a master’s degree in elementary education in 2017.
Every other Milken award to be given out this year remains secret until the official announcements are made.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated the award was a grant. Port City Daily regrets the error.
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