ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — A social sciences teacher at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights has been honored with as an outstanding teacher with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, teacher Bradley Abel said he knew something was up, because the school was buzzing.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
“There were a lot of rumors – anything from Oprah being there to the “Twilight” cast to student getting new iPads,” Abel said.
Abel and the students walked into an assembly, where they found U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), and Mike Milken, co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, who said someone was getting a Milken Educator Awrad.
“Before he was calling the name, I said, ‘Oh, I bet you it’s this person, I bet you it’s this person,’ because we have so many wonderful staff members at our school,” Abel said, “and when he called my name, literally, my jaw dropped to the ground.”
The Milken Awards are known as the Oscars of teaching.
“I truly don’t look at it as an individual hour. I look at it as part of a whole staff who won this,” Milken said.
The Milken Family Foundation says Abel instills in his students “an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and personal improvement.”
The foundation says Milken and a colleague created the Advanced Placement human geography curriculum at the school, and 95 percent of his students took the exam. All of them passed, including freshmen and sophomores who were taking it for the first time, the foundation said.
Hersey has also had a gain of three to four points in ACT reading scores due to Abel’s assistance, the foundation said.
He is also known for reaching students with mental health difficulties, as well as students who are hard of hearing or deaf, the foundation said.
And when he is not in the classroom, he is the head coach for the girls’ soccer team. He is also involved in the school’s “Service over Self” community program, the foundation said.
There is no formal nomination or application process for the awards. Candidates are recommended without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the department of education in each state.