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Pearl River Central High School teacher Chayna Adams receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award
JACKSON, Mississippi — Pearl River Central High School (PRCHS) homeroom teacher Chayna Adams received the surprise of her life today when she was presented with an unrestricted $25,000 Milken Educator Award at a meeting at 10 a.m. in the school gymnasium.
The Milken Educator Awards, established by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987, publicly recognize teaching excellence to not only inspire educators, but also students and communities about the importance of joining the teaching profession. The prestigious honor is being presented at more than 60 schools across the country in the 2021-22 school year and has been described as “the Oscars of teaching”. More than $140 million in funding, including $70 million in $25,000 individual scholarships, has gone towards the overall initiative, which includes powerful professional learning opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.
Adams and PRCHS students and staff believed they were gathered in the school gymnasium this morning to receive congratulations from the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) on the commendable Algebra I scores of the ‘school. Instead, Greg Gallagher, senior director of the Milken Educator Awards program, and Courtney Van Cleve, director of educator talent acquisition and effectiveness, joined in the surprise recognition of Adams for his work as a as a model educator for the State and the nation.
“Ms. Adams has done an extraordinary job inspiring her students to meet and exceed high academic standards,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “She is a wonderful example of our educators. dedicated Mississippi people who work hard every day to help students learn and succeed.”
Adams’ students and colleagues learn more than the academics she cares for; it teaches them pride, respect and commitment. After years of teaching math and leading the math department at PRCHS, Adams is now the school’s lead teacher, responsible for academic achievement, school-wide data, and student support. supervision of teaching staff. She supports new teachers in pedagogical practices, organizational skills, student interventions and data analysis. Adams also coordinates professional development at the school level based on school and state data. To support the school’s goals of consistently improving academic and behavioral goals, Adams plans and organizes school-wide incentives for students who meet weekly and monthly goals.
“As a lead teacher, Ms. Adams serves as a role model to her peers and works daily to elevate and strengthen the teaching profession,” said Dr Courtney Van Cleve of MDE. “She is a worthy recipient of this year’s Milken Prize. I join her students, her school and her community in congratulating her on this achievement.
Adams’ data-driven classroom experience has served her well in her advancement to instructional leadership. As an algebra teacher, Adams has used a wide variety of creative and practical strategies that support student learning at all levels, including small group instruction, scaffolded partner activities, guided notes, whiteboard workouts, “Jeopardy” math, and matching games. She tracked the results of unit and district assessments on a “data wall” and adjusted her instructions to fill learning gaps. Adams consistently reinforced positive behaviors in the classroom and communicated with parents about both concerns and successes. His dedication to student achievement has yielded notable results: the PRCHS algebra pass rate is 94 percent, and students in the bottom 25 percent consistently meet growth and proficiency goals on state assessments.
As head of the math department, Adams led instructional rounds, performed data analysis, trained new teachers, and led the Professional Learning Committee (PLC). During pandemic school closures, she used virtual meetings to connect weekly with her department and created interactive video and digital lessons for teachers to use with students. Consulting with MDE’s math coach, Adams led the redesign of all levels of the school’s algebra curriculum to align with state standards, increase rigor and make content accessible to students. in distance learning. She has written test items for Algebra I for state assessments and presented at state and national conferences. Colleagues often shadowed Adams in the classroom to learn from his skillful classroom management and instructional strategies.
Adams taught seven graduating classes at PRCHS, and many alumni credit him with their successes, especially with their college and career choices. She taught the school’s ACT preparatory math class, using individualized instruction plans to prepare students for the important college entrance exams. Adams connects with all students regardless of math ability and often attends sporting events, family events, and other activities outside of the classroom.
Adams received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2009 and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University in 2014.
For a full biography, photos and video, visit the Milken Educator Awards website:
Find all the MDE press releases on mdek12.org/news.
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