- Posted November 12, 2012 by
Milken Educator Award Salutes and Surprises a South Carolina Teacher
In Greenville, SC, a school assembly celebrating Veteran’s Day took on added meaning when another type of American hero – one of our nation’s top teachers – was surprised with a Milken Educator Award. Shasta Looker, a fourth-grade teacher at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School, received the prestigious honor, which comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000, in front of cheering students and colleagues. Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Awards recognize early to mid-career educators for what they have achieved, and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future. Since the Milken Family Foundation first presented the Awards to a dozen California teachers, the program has grown to become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists with over $63 million in individual $25,000 cash awards. This year, up to 40 of America’s best teachers will receive the 2012 honor. The 2012, South Carolina recipient, Shasta Looper, is a high-tech whiz with a passion for the written word, who weaves a wealth of digital tools into her fourth graders’ world while embedding a deep appreciation for the arts. Technology abounds in her classroom, to be sure, but Looper also teaches her boys and girls the beauty of a good book. A dedicated advocate of tailoring data-driven instruction to individual students, Looper translates facts and figures into age-appropriate and specially engineered lesson plans. Her kids develop movies and podcasts for book reports and use PowerPoint presentations and artwork to demonstrate mastery. Outside the classroom, she pilots out-of-class tutoring and sponsors student and family activities, including Family Fitness Night, Girls on the Run, and Write Night. Kids bloom with Looper at the helm: 85 to 90 percent achieve more than one year’s growth under her tutelage. National Board Certified, Looper is adept at sharing practical applications so that teachers experience success with technology. As the district iPad trainer and her school’s technology committee member, Looper models differentiated instruction for teachers in the district and throughout South Carolina and runs workshops for the district and for universities.