The “Oscars of Teaching” has gone to a third grade Battle Academy teacher whose hard work and dedication has secured national recognition and a $25,000 cash award.
Katelyn Baker was surprised with the Milken Educator Award win during an all-school assembly Tuesday. To keep the award a surprise, the school-wide assembly was billed as a visit from Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen to commend the school’s dedication to student learning.
Baker is the only Milken Educator Award recipient for Tennessee this year.
Hamilton County Department of Education Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly said he is honored the Milken Family Foundation has noticed the exceptional education efforts in Hamilton County. “We could not be more thrilled about this announcement,” he said. “We put an emphasis on great teachers, great leaders here in Hamilton County. It is gratifying the Milken Educator Award is acknowledging our efforts on the national stage.”
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley touted Ms. Baker’s accomplishments. “She tailors instruction to meet her students’ needs, shares successful strategies with colleagues, builds relationships with parents and plays an important role in moving the whole school forward,” Dr. Foley said. “I look forward to following Katelyn’s exciting future in the teaching profession.”
"Along with reading, math, science and social studies, Ms. Baker’s third graders learn another very important skill: how to critique each other’s work. Ms. Baker acts as the facilitator as students share their work in front of the class, then listen as their peers offer both compliments and respectfully deliver suggestions for improvement. Calm, quiet and strong, Ms. Baker creates a safe environment in her classroom where students know they can trust her and each other," officials said.
Battle Academy Principal Saunya Goss said she was thrilled to hear about Ms. Baker’s win. “We are so proud of Ms. Baker’s accomplishments. She is a shining example of the environment that we have created here at Battle Academy that produces great teachers and great leaders,” Ms. Goss said. “We thank Milken for this prestigious acknowledgement.”
Commissioner McQueen was on hand for the award presentation. “Early grade educators provide our students a strong foundation from which they can grow into lifelong learners, and Katelyn Baker is working every day to help her students get there,” Dr. McQueen said. “She is an exceptional educator who has gone above and beyond to support and encourage each student in her classroom, and I am proud to recognize her with this award.”
Principal Goss also said, “As the third-grade team lead, Baker plays a key role in the school’s efforts to foster teacher leadership. She represents her grade level at school meetings and oversees the grade’s day-to-day operations. Baker also leads team planning each week for her grade level and provides feedback on lesson content and pacing. Baker serves on the school leadership team and has worked on committees that focus on arts integration, Socratic seminars, and multiple intelligences. As the school’s literacy support representative, Baker is responsible for sharing key literacy information from the district with her school. She leads best practices sessions for intermediate teachers and mentors student teachers from local universities.”
"Ms. Baker’s communications skills are an asset in forging relationships with parents; she goes beyond conferences and open houses to connect with them. At the beginning of the year she asks parents to write a letter about their children, sharing how they work best and where they may need help. Baker solicits information about parents’ strengths, skills, and interests to find ways to include them in classroom activities," officials said.
Ms. Baker earned both a bachelor of science in early childhood education and a bachelor of arts in Spanish from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2010.
As the third grade team lead, Ms. Baker represents her grade level at school meetings and oversees the grade’s day-to-day operations. She leads team planning each week for her grade level and provides feedback on lesson content and pacing. Ms. Baker serves on the school leadership team and has worked on committees that focus on arts integration, Socratic seminars, and multiple intelligences. As the school’s literacy support representative, Ms. Baker is responsible for sharing key literacy information from the district with her school. She leads best practices sessions for intermediate teachers and mentors student teachers from local universities.
In Tennessee, 64 educators have been recognized since the program began in the state in 1992. Over the past 24 years that Tennessee has been a part of the program, more than $1.6 million has been awarded to Tennessee educators.