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Alexander receives $25,000 Milken award

Amara Alexander, sixth-grade teacher at Horizon Elementary School, received the $25,000 Milken Educator Award. CONTRIBUTED
Amara Alexander, sixth-grade teacher at Horizon Elementary School, received the $25,000 Milken Educator Award. CONTRIBUTED
MADISON – Amara Alexander was pleasantly surprised to receive the $25,000 Milken Educator Award on Nov. 29.
The sixth-grade teacher at Horizon Elementary School was ushered into an assembly to accept her prestigious honor. Horizon administrators and faculty had guarded the secret.
“I was totally surprised,” Alexander said. “Rodney Richardson, my principal, stated that the state superintendent wanted to view Horizon and have an assembly. It never crossed my mind that I would receive the Milken award.”
“I was in shock and still am,” Alexander said. “However, I am very excited to receive this national teacher award.”
In its 30th year, the Milken award recognizes educators in early to mid-career for their achievements and potential. Alexander has been inducted into the national Milken Educator Network of 2,700-plus educators and has been invited to attend the Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans in spring 2017.
Milken officials don’t tell recipients about reasons for their selection, and Alexander did not know she was nominated. “From my knowledge, they have seen my teaching or have heard about the wonderful lessons in my classroom,” Alexander said.
Prize money goes directly to Alexander.
“The Milken Educator Award is a direct reflection of Amara Alexander’s passion to generate excitement about science and interest in STEM-related careers among her students,” State Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance said.
Alexander’s mother, Dr. Tammy Alexander, also received the Milken award in 1998.
Amara Alexander earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education at Alabama A&M University, where she was a Bulldog cheerleader.
Previously, she taught sixth-grade language arts at Sparkman Middle School and fifth-grade language arts at Mill Creek Elementary School.
Alexander uses cross-curricular approaches in her classroom. For example, during a unit on weather disasters, students learned real-life struggles by reading “Ninth Ward,” a young adult novel about Hurricane Katrina. Making physics fun, her sixth-graders built roller coasters to determine optimal slopes of tracks at different intervals.
In addition, Alexander is active in Project Lead the Way, coordinates Horizon’s STEM initiatives and directs Horizon’s extended-day program. A GEMS (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully) program advisor, Alexander mentors teenage girls.
A Huntsville native, she grew up in the Buckhorn/New Market area. Alexander serves as a Girl Scout troop leader.

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