Hartford Teacher Wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award

by Categorized: Christina Kishimoto, Pedro Segarra, Schools Date:

As a kid growing up in Hartford, Tamika Knight attended Milner, Quirk Middle and graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1995. She then played basketball on scholarship at Central Connecticut State University, where she received her degree in education.

For the past 12 years, Knight has taught in the Hartford school system. Her fifth-grade students at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School know that it’s not just about academics with Knight, but about being good people.

On Friday morning, in a surprise announcement two hours ago in the Annie Fisher gymnasium, Knight was honored as one of the best in her profession.

The 35-year-old received the Milken Educator Award, a national honor that comes with a $25,000 prize. Knight is the only teacher in Connecticut to receive the award this year. (Click here for video of Knight’s reaction: priceless.)

Jane Foley, senior vice president for the Milken Educator Awards, told students and teachers gathered in the gym that she traveled from California to give what she called the “Oscars of teaching.” After drawing out the suspense, Foley announced the winner.

“She turned around and she said, ‘Tamika!’ And I’m like, who?” Knight recounted later. “I’m in awe. It’s so surreal for me.”

Tamika Knight holds a ceremonial check after being named a Milken Educator. She is standing with Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor (center), school board Chairman Matthew Poland (far right), Milken Family Foundation's Jane Foley, two former Connecticut winners and Mayor Pedro Segarra (far left). Photo by Vanessa de la Torre.

Tamika Knight holds a ceremonial check after being named a Milken Educator. She stands with Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor (center), school board Chairman Matthew Poland (far right), Milken Family Foundation’s Jane Foley in red, two former Connecticut winners and Mayor Pedro Segarra (far left). Photo by Vanessa de la Torre.

After the event, I spoke with Deveria Barry, a 1991 Milken winner from her time teaching kindergarten and first grade at M.L. King School in Hartford.

“It’s wonderful as an educator to be appreciated and recognized,” said Barry, who is retired but continues to work part-time as a reading tutor. “It’s not even about the money. It’s about being thanked for doing something we love.”

UPDATE: The full story on Knight’s Milken award is here.

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