Mylan Park Elementary’s Jennifer Reaves wins Milken Educator Award

MORGANTOWN — The envelope, please.

This year’s West Virginia recipient of the Milken Educator Award just thought she was recording that Tuesday morning assembly at her school for posterity.

Thought she’d put it online and tweet it out.

After all, that’s what Jennifer Reaves does daily at Mylan Park Elementary.

Actually, she does a lot more than that.

She’s the lone technology integration specialist at the school on Chaplin Hill Road.

With her signature smile and trademark denim jacket, she advances technology literacy — while calming tech-jitters — at the same time:
No, you didn’t break your laptop.
Yes, you will learn computer coding, even if you are a kid, because you’re smart. You’ll learn computer coding especially because you’re a kid.
No, you didn’t permanently delete the pictures of your grandchildren from Thanksgiving.
Yes, it was OK to tell it to update.
No, you didn’t break your laptop (again).

So, anyway, she made sure to chronicle the proceedings via iPad video, since she knew a Mylan Park teacher was being honored by the Milken Family Foundation.

From its headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., the foundation annually and nationally recognizes innovation in teaching.

When Jane Foley, a former teacher who is senior vice president of the foundation’s Educator Awards division read the name, Reaves unraveled, happily.

“I put my iPad down and said, ‘Wha-a-a-a-t?’” Reaves said, as she laughed and brushed tears at the same time.

Reaves is among just 40 educators from across the country, and the only one from West Virginia, to receive the award known in school circles as the “Oscars of Teaching.”
She also received $25,000 as part of the recognition, and will attend a conference will her fellow winners, the Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans, this March.

Reaves previously second-grade teacher at another school, and was known for her work integrating technology and lesson plans when Mylan Park Principal Anne Lupo recruited her for the job two years ago.

“I said, ‘Jen, you’re a teacher,’” Lupo said. “Technology will be your classroom.”
Lupo praised Reaves for her work at Mylan Park Elementary. She doesn’t just teach tech to students, the principal said.

She teaches tech to teachers: Google Classroom. Nearpod. Skills, apps and more.

“I am confident this is just the beginning of many, many years of innovative, creative and thoughtful teaching by Jennifer,” state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine said. “The Mountain State is lucky to claim her as of our own.”
Reaves, who grew up in Virginia and Florida, holds advertising and education degrees from WVU.

Don’t look for educator’s “Oscar” winner to take any time off, she said.

“I’ll be back here tomorrow, teaching, because I love what I do.”
Avarie Schrader, a studious third-grader at Mylan Park Elementary, said she was happy for the award recipient.

“She helps us if we have trouble with our Chromebooks,” Avarie said. “I want to be a teacher. Like her.”
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