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Thurgood Marshall Academy Educator Kena Allison Receives $25,000 Surprise Award from the Milken Family Foundation

Washington, DC (October 24, 2013) – What began as a school assembly to celebrate Thurgood Marshall Academy as a Reward School turned into a surprise for Kena Allison, physics teacher and instructional specialist, who received the top educator award from the Milken Family Foundation.

Lending their congratulations during the surprise ceremony were DC Mayor of Education Abigail Smith who presented a proclamation from the Mayor; D.C. Public Charter School Board Member Don Soifer; Councilmember David A. Catania (At-Large); and DC State Board of Education Representatives Mary Lord (At-Large), Mark Jones (Ward 5), Monica Warren-Jones (Ward 6), and Karen Williams (Ward 7).

Kena Allison could have been a skilled doctor but instead chose to become a dedicated school teacher. Over the years, she has diagnosed and fixed systemic school challenges, repaired the broken dreams of her students, and contributed to improving the academic, emotional, and physical health of not just her students but of her entire school and community.

“Kena is at the heart of our school,” said Alexandra Pardo, Thurgood Marshall’s executive director. “She is a relentlessly dedicated educator with an unwavering commitment to both student support and teacher growth.”

Always the consummate innovator, Allison encourages her 12th grade students to learn Albert Einstein’s subject of choice, physics, in creative ways. Inside the classroom, students originate physics raps to learn equations or play Red Light, Green Light to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Motion. Outside the classroom, she plans field trips for students to study the aerodynamics of roller coasters and also created a “Physics of Sports” project, where students pick their favorite sports like golf or gymnastics and relate back to her how the laws of physics apply to their respective sports.

In addition to being an exceptional classroom teacher, Allison is science department chair, collaborating with colleagues to study Next Generation Science Standards and leading professional development. For her tireless efforts, she received a Harvard Fellowship for Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness in High Schools.

The Milken Educator Awards, conceived to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession, is the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine. Since 1987, the Milken Family Foundation, co-founded by Michael and Lowell Milken, has devoted more than $136 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards, including over $64 million in individual Awards to nearly 2,600 recipients plus powerful professional development opportunities and networking with leading education stakeholders.

View photos from the awards presentation
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Learn more about Milken Educator Awards