University of Portland graduate Bonnie Robb, a first-grade teacher in Portland, has received the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.
Robb was notified of the award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize, during an assembly Thursday at Clark K-8 @ Binnsmead school in Southeast Portland, where she teaches.
“You are the reason I am here,” Robb told the 700-plus students who packed the school auditorium for the surprise announcement.
State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo, Portland Superintendent Carole Smith and Milken representatives were on hand for the announcement. The Milken foundation – the largest teacher recognition program in the nation -- was created more than 20 years ago. Since its creation, the foundation has awarded 70 awards to Oregon educators.
Robb graduated from the University of Portland in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She later returned to the University and graduated in 2001 with a masters degree in education.
“She won it for the right reasons,” says University of Portland education professor Ellyn Arwood, who co-wrote an article with Robb on visual learning strategies in the classroom. “She won it for what she does with the kids.”
“Bonnie won’t compromise her values and integrity,” adds Arwood, who had Robb as a student in the early 1990s. “She’s in the field to make a difference.”
Robb began teaching in 1995 and works primarily with students in poverty and students whose native language is not English. Although 40 percent of her students speak a language other than English at home and about 80 percent receive free or reduced price lunches, more than 80 percent of her students meet or exceed benchmarks in reading, writing and math each year in later grades.
“Without question, Bonnie is a master teacher and teacher leader,” says Clark principal Chris Aanderud, who hired Robb in 2001. “She is motivated by her love of children, and her need to seek ways to monitor and adjust her instruction to more effectively meet the needs of her students.”
Arwood said Robb epitomizes the life-long learner. She’ll learn new teaching strategies and apply them only if it will benefit her students.
“She represents us well,” Arwood said of the University of Portland graduate.