SPRING HILL, FL. – One might not believe their eyes seeing kindergarten students write and type a full paragraph all on their own. At Westside Elementary School in Spring Hill, Florida, April Crisci’s students achieve that and more as they develop a foundation in literacy and love of learning.
During spring 2020, student success in her collaborative classroom withstood pandemic interruptions, with 92% of Crisci’s students ending on or above grade level in ELA and 98% meeting expected growth.
Today at a surprise ceremony, Crisci’s success was recognized with a national Milken Educator Award in front of appreciative colleagues, students, education officials, and media.
Florida Senior Chancellor of Education Jacob Oliva joined Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop to present Crisci with the prestigious recognition, including an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize to be used however she likes.
Crisci is among more than 60 educators across the nation who will receive the recognition during the 2021-22 season, and the first recipient from Hernando County School District. Ashley Hernandez, a math teacher at Riverview High School in Sarasota, received the Award this morning.
On top of today’s celebrations, both Crisci and Hernandez will join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,800 exceptional K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this June.
“April Crisci exemplifies the forward-thinking strategies in education that Milken Educators strive to represent,” said Bishop, who is herself a 2001 Milken Educator from Virginia. “Through encouraging classroom observations and bringing innovative instructional methods to Westside Elementary, she is strengthening the success of her students and supporting fellow teachers. The impressive abilities of the young students who leave her classroom speak for themselves: April’s influence is equipping them to spring forward in their education. I congratulate April and welcome her into the Milken Educator Network.”
“Congratulations to April Crisci for being recognized with this prominent honor,” said Senior Chancellor of Education Jacob Oliva. “Ms. Crisci is an asset to the teaching profession in Florida as she works hard to teach her students the early literacy skills they need to become successful. Ms. Crisci’s dedication to the education profession can be seen through the time, effort and talent she commits to supporting her students as they persevere to achieve their goals.”
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.