Data-Driven Student Success Leads to a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for Murfreesboro Teacher Raeven Brooks
Brooks is seen as a school and district leader, opening up her Black Fox Elementary classroom to mentor other teachers
For the direct link to the video of Raeven Brooks’ reaction, visit https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/newsroom/videos/view/raeven-brooks-murfreesboro-tennessee
For full bio, photos and video, visit https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/raeven-brooks
Santa Monica, Calif., (April 7, 2022) — You could say Raeven Brooks was born to be an outstanding educator. Raised in a family of educators in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the second grade teacher is now giving back to a new generation in the community at Black Fox Elementary, teaching alongside some of the same teachers whose classrooms she learned in as a child. Brooks holds high expectations for each of her students, combining school data and differentiated instruction to build pathways to success based on students’ challenges and strengths. Brooks’ students regularly meet or exceed the school’s annual measurable progress on TNReady. Today, in a fitting celebration of Brooks’ accomplishments, she was recognized with a surprise national Milken Educator Award in front of appreciative colleagues, students, education officials and media.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Dr. Penny Schwinn joined Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley to present Brooks with the national recognition, which includes a $25,000 cash prize that she can use however she likes. Brooks will join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,800 exceptional educators and leaders across the country dedicated to strengthening K-12 education. She is the first recipient awarded in Murfreesboro City Schools.
“Through her talent and dedication, Raeven Brooks has made an indelible impact as a student – and educator – in the district and broader community she calls home,” said Dr. Foley, who is herself a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. “Raeven’s use of data to inform decision-making, combined with her skill for keeping students challenged and engaged, create the ideal environment for each child to succeed. Her leadership is inspiring and serves as a model to follow.”
“Dedicated teachers ensure Tennessee students have opportunities to thrive in the classroom and beyond,” said Governor Lee. “I thank Raeven for her service to Murfreesboro City Schools and congratulate her for being recognized as an outstanding educator.”
“Raeven Brooks exemplifies the kind of teacher who does whatever it takes to serve not just their students and school, but their entire community,” said Commissioner Schwinn. “Like Ms. Brooks, I, too, come from a family of educators, and I understand the dedication and commitment it takes to both provide students with an excellent education and become a model of strong practice and leadership for fellow educators. Ms. Brooks chose to serve in the community where she was educated, and she has clearly chosen a path of service where she can have strong, positive, lasting impacts on student success. Congratulations to Ms. Raeven Brooks for being awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award in honor and recognition of her hard work and enthusiasm.”
Brooks is among more than 60 educators nationwide who will receive the recognition during the 2021-22 school year and the second recipient from Tennessee. Tyler Hallstedt, a social studies teacher at Mt. Juliet Middle School, was presented with the Award this morning. He is also the first Award recipient in his district, Wilson County Schools.
Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.
Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s recipients in a video message thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.
More About Raeven Brooks
Differentiated Instruction: Brooks builds a supportive community of learners where children believe they can reach any goal. Brooks is a cluster teacher whose classroom includes gifted students as well as those with learning and behavioral challenges. But when class is in session, every learner is fully engaged in the high-level tasks Brooks puts in front of them, which emphasize reasoning and problem-solving. She runs an intervention math group for students who are one or more years behind grade level.
Student Success: Murfreesboro City Schools administers benchmark assessments three times each year; Brooks’ students grow substantially while in her classroom, meeting or exceeding the school’s annual measurable progress on TNReady. With data in hand, Brooks develops action plans to tackle the areas where she and students need to improve. Strengths in data analysis, differentiated instruction and classroom management help her bring out the best in each student.
School Leadership: Brooks represents Black Fox’s second grade team in the district’s Math Network, which meets monthly to identify weaknesses in standards, develop lesson plans and professional development, and integrate math into other disciplines like literature. Brooks was an original part of the STEAM leadership team at the elementary school, working to build a culture authentic to the school and students. The school applied for STEM designation and will find out soon if they move forward with the designation process.
Beyond Black Fox: She co-leads and coordinates district-level data analysis for the school’s Response to Instruction and Intervention-Behavior (RTI2-B) team, and helps recruit new teachers with the Job Fair team. Brooks mentors new teachers in the school and district as well as student teachers from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). She often invites educators from around the district to observe in her classroom. For two years, she participated in professional learning through Project Inspire, a joint project of Murfreesboro City Schools and MTSU.
Learning Adaptation: Brooks values her community and has great rapport with parents. When COVID-19 closed school buildings in spring 2020, Brooks focused on connecting with families to ensure student participation, recognizing and celebrating parents for their hard work and collaboration. Students uploaded work to portfolios using the ClassDojo app, with Brooks providing near-instant feedback and Zooming with the class weekly to motivate pupils to continue learning. With a second grade colleague, Brooks shared a camping-themed video lesson incorporating reading and writing skills via Murfreesboro City TV, which aired televised lessons from local teachers while children were learning at home. For the 2020-21 school year, Brooks served as Hybrid Teacher for her grade level.
Education: Brooks earned a bachelor’s in early childhood education from Middle Tennessee State University in 2015. She is currently enrolled in the university’s Administration and Supervision Graduate Program.
More About the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”
Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.
· In June, the honorees will attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
· Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.
· Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels.
· “We find you. You don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.
· The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.
To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).
For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.
About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at MFF.org.