Two Austin-Area Teachers Win National Award

Two Texas educators were honored with the Milken Educator Award last week. The Milken Educator Award, known as the "Academy Award" of teaching, is given to individuals with great contributions to education, who inspire and impact students, who demonstrate exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom, and who have effective instructional practices and positive student learning results in the classroom and school.

The two Austin-area recipients of the award were freshman principal Adelaida Olivares at Del Valle High and high school social studies teacher Maricruz Aguayo-Tabor at Liberal Arts and Science Academy.

Adelaida told me how she grew up as the youngest of six children born to migrant farmworker parents. For 10 years, Adelaida worked the fields in summer and went to school in winter. Yet imagine! All six siblings went to college; five earned master's degrees; and five entered the education field. I'd call that a successful track record for parents in any walk of life.
Maricruz grew up in the impoverished Rio Grande Valley with her father, a Mexican immigrant, and her mother, a teacher. While most parents in the region considered high school the pinnacle of achievement for their kids, this was not the message given to Maricruz. Not only did she attend Brandeis University, she followed that up with a master's in history from Harvard.

One of the accomplishments Adelaida Olivares was recognized for was her implementation of Pathways to Success, a support system that brings teachers, parents, and students together with clear goals for success. Under Olivares, the school has seen a decrease in the dropout rate from 45 to 19 percent, and student body scores have increased three percent in reading and four percent in math.

Maricruz Aguayo-Tabor was recognized for creating the Magnet Planning Guide Curriculum for every social studies course district-wide. Aguayo-Tabor is known for her dedication to students who enter high school with inadequate preparation, and the results speak for themselves as 100% of her students passed TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills). Aguayo-Tabor developed the yearlong Advanced Placement European history curriculum, which helps the growing number of students who enroll in this course go on to excel on the Advanced Placement exam. Even though she works as a history teacher, Aguayo-Tabor was named one of the nation's top 25 math teachers for her sponsorship of the school's award-winning math team.

Way to go Texas educators!


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