aMAzing Educators

Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards

Goals of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards program include honoring and rewarding outstanding K-12 educators for the quality of their teaching, their professional leadership, their engagement with families and the community, and their potential for even greater contributions to the healthy development of children. Goals also include focusing public attention on the importance of excellent educators and encouraging able, caring and creative people to choose the challenge, service and adventure of teaching as a career.

Based on guidelines established by the Foundation, participating states' departments of education appoint blue-ribbon committees that recommend candidates for selection. Identification and selection procedures are confidential, and the program does not include a formal nomination or application procedure.

2018 Massachusetts Milken Educator

Handwritten cards adorn the large, three-dimensional tree that is prominent on one of the many decorated walls of the library at Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Librarian Jennifer Gordon asks students at the start of each year to fill these cards with their hopes and dreams for the future. Throughout the year, Gordon uses the cards to help her recommend books that she hopes will engage and inspire her students and spark a lifelong love of reading and learning. Banneker's students love to read. And much of that can be attributed to Ms. Gordon's passing on her passion for a good story, a good laugh, and a good book. She goes to great lengths to celebrate books and reading, posting students' book reviews and decorated book jackets outside the library and creating comfortable cozy nooks throughout the library for casual reading and discussion. Gordon encourages her young readers to write to celebrated authors like Mo Willems; the authors often write back, much to students' delight. Walk into the library when Gordon is reading to a class and you'll see a fully engaged group of students, eyes wide open, watching her animated moves and listening to the many voices she uses. Students wave their hands eagerly to answer her follow-up questions with reasoned, well-thought-out comments. Banneker's students flock to Gordon at lunchtime and consider her one of "the cool teachers"—whatever she does, from reading to camping to skiing, they want to be part of it.

Gordon collaborates with Banneker's ELA and reading coaches to piggyback on their curriculum and put the right resources in their hands. All of her lessons and units are based on the rigorous Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and align with Banneker's overall goal of educating the whole child. She makes sure students have books that stretch them and help to expand their skills. Gordon works with small reading groups in the mornings, both to challenge advanced readers and supplement those who need help. She chairs the specialists' cluster team where art music and technology are integrated into the school's rigorous STEM curriculum. When not in the library, Ms. Gordon can be found leading professional development, mentoring new teachers, and working with colleagues to develop a classroom culture that includes problem-solving and kinesthetic learning. And it's working: The school's MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) ELA scores are among the top in the state.

Gordon also plays a key role as a long-term member of the Banneker community. She leads the Adventure Club, which takes fifth- and sixth-graders on monthly outdoor excursions, including overnight camping. Gordon helps students fundraise for and chaperones the school's annual sixth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., building in literacy before and during the trip. Gordon's ability to make learning engaging and fun happens in and out of the library. She created a maker space, coordinates Field Day and daily morning announcements, is an active member of the school band, and runs book clubs for younger students. When former students drop by, they make a beeline for the library to tell Gordon about all the books they've read.

Gordon earned a bachelor's in English from Worcester State College in 2000 and a master's in library science from Simmons College in 2002.

Jennifer Gordon
Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School

2018 Massachusetts Milken Educator, Jennifer Gordon

2018 Massachusetts Milken Educator, Jennifer Gordon (group photo)

Massachusetts Milken Educators


  • Dan Adler, Science Teacher
    UP Academy Leonard, Lawrence


  • Michelle Ryan, History Teacher
    Randolph High School, Randolph


  • Anthony Petrelis, Teacher
    McGlynn Elementary School, Medford

  • 2013

  • James Moonan, Teacher
    Pierce Middle School, Milton

  • 2012

  • Allan Cameron, Principal
    Deerfield Elementary School, Westwood

  • 2011

  • Derek Vandegrift, History Teacher
    Waltham High School, Waltham

  • 2010

  • Roni Gold, Teacher
    Rebecca Johnson School, Springfield

  • 2009

  • Rebecca Duda, Teacher
    Lakeview Junior High School, Dracut

  • 2008

  • Chris Louis Sardella, Teacher
    Marion E. Zeh Elementary School, Northborough

  • 2007

  • Anne Clark, Curriculum and Special
    Education Coordinator; ELA Teacher,
    Boston Arts Academy, Boston

  • Matthew Dugan, Teacher
    Madison Park Technical Vocational High, Boston

  • 2006

  • Nicholas Leonardos, Principal
    South Elementary School, Stoneham

  • Amanda Sequin, Teacher
    Curtis Guild Elementary, East Boston

  • 2005

  • Thabiti Akil Brown, Academic Dean
    Codman Academy Charter, Boston

  • Jasmine Lellock, Teacher
    Randolph High, Randolph

  • 2004

  • Michael Aw, Teacher
    Memorial Elementary, Hopedale

  • Holly Concannon, Teacher
    RJ Murphy, Boston

  • 2003

  • Michael Barton, Teacher
    Greater Lowell Voc. Tech. School,

  • Timothy Farmer, Principal
    Remington Middle School, Franklin

  • 2002

  • Mary Cowhey, Teacher
    Jackson Street School, Northampton

  • Michael Stanton, Teacher
    Ralph Talbot Primary, Weymouth

  • 2001

  • June Eressy, Teacher
    University Park Campus, Worcester

  • Catherine Latham, Teacher
    Lynn English High

  • Edward Noonan, Teacher
    Dorchester High, Boston

  • 2000

  • Holli Armstrong, Teacher
    Old Post Road Elementary, Walpole

  • Lucille Ferragamo, Teacher
    Whelan Elementary, Revere

  • Mary Meade-Montaque, Principal
    Roosevelt Elementary, Worcester

  • Elaine Swain, Teacher
    R. J. Murphy Elementary, Boston

  • 1999

  • Jim DeProfio, Teacher
    Lowell High School

  • Chuck McAfee, Principal
    Clarence Edwards Middle, Boston

  • Karin Orbon, Teacher
    North Brookfield High

  • Janice Smith, Teacher
    Weymouth Junior High

  • 1998

  • Wayne Boisselle, Teacher
    Dawson Elementary, Holden

  • William Henderson, Principal
    Patrick O'Hearn, Boston

  • Sue Pandiani, Teacher
    Ella F. Hoxie, Bourne

  • Sheila Smith-McAdams, Teacher
    Winthrop Elementary, Ipswich

  • 1997

  • Patricia Clem, Principal
    Powder Mill Middle, Southwick

  • Michael Contompasis, Headmaster
    Boston Latin, Boston

  • Maria Ferrandini, Teacher
    Charles C. Cashman Elementary, Amesbury

  • Alice Garcia, Teacher
    City View Elementary, Worcester

  • Kevin McArdle, Principal
    Heath Brook School, Tewksbury

  • David Vito, Teacher
    North Attleborough High

  • Joan Vohl Hamilton, Teacher
    Fairview Veterans Memorial Middle, Chicopee

  • Alma Wright, Teacher
    William Monroe Trotter Elementary, Boston

    Contact Us

    Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
    75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

    Voice: (781) 338-3000
    TTY: (800) 439-2370


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