Union City, New Jersey, Health Sciences Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award
October 13, 2015
SANTA MONICA, CA – Health Sciences teacher Kimberly Moreno led a group of students into a schoolwide assembly at Union City High School to hear Assistant Education Commissioner Peter Shulman speak to students about the importance of college and careers. Little did she know that the assembly was to honor her and that an hour later, she would be walking out of the gymnasium a Milken Educator Award recipient and $25,000 richer.
In front of her principal, colleagues, students, staff and distinguished community members, Moreno was given the surprise of her life when she received the Milken Educator Award. She was presented with the distinct navy blue envelope by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken.
For the next six months, in up to 40 schools around the U.S., outstanding middle and high school educators will receive the Milken Educator Award and an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000.
Milken said Moreno is known as a role model to younger teachers and for going beyond the call of duty.
“As a highly effective Health Sciences teacher, Kimberly Moreno is providing young people with the skills they need to compete in a demanding global economy,” said Milken. “She inspires everyone around her—both her students and her colleagues—to reach their highest potential.”
“I am pleased that Kimberly has been recognized for her commitment to education,” said New Jersey Education Commissioner David C. Hespe. “Kimberly truly exemplifies the energy, care and vision that teachers throughout the Garden State demonstrate every day. The children of New Jersey are fortunate to have educators like her to inspire them to succeed in the classroom, and in life.”
At Union City High School where students frequently face economic hardships, the future is promising, thanks in part to Moreno. When the school decided to establish a health-related program with Rutgers University Medical School for Health Related Professions, Moreno was tapped to develop the program, which gives students the opportunity to pursue careers in the Allied Health fields by offering them college credit courses and a premedical honors program. Moreno is adept at convincing many of them to pursue careers in the medical and health-related fields.
During the first year of the program, Moreno’s students surpassed expectations and broke all records that had been established in the 20-year history of the program at large. Under her mentorship, not only did all of her students pass and earn college credit, but one received a perfect score of 100, a first for the program. Rutgers administrators were so impressed that they appointed Moreno as an adjunct professor. She also works as a curriculum writer and course developer for the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at the university.
In class, she focuses planning and delivering lessons using technology to engage and motivate her students. Daily, she strives to improve proficiency and graduation rates at the school.
As the advisor of HOSA, a national student organization focusing on health occupations, Moreno has been instrumental in helping her students enter local, state and national health competitions. Every year they receive local awards and prizes. Recently, her students swept most of the awards at a regional competition and they qualified to compete at the national level in Anaheim, California. Under her leadership, the Union City HOSA chapter is over 140 members strong and conducts two blood drives annually, collecting over 400 pints of blood.
Moreno serves as one of the coordinators of Project SEED (Summer Experience for Economically Disadvantaged), a program sponsored by the American Chemical Society, in which students perform state-of-the-art research under the supervision of a scientist. Out in the community, she also conducts CPR courses for EMTs, firefighters, police and other hospital staff on a volunteer basis.
Moreno graduated from the honors program at Montclair State University with a bachelor’s in biology in 2006. She received a master’s in special education in 2011 from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Milken Educator Awards program, which was launched by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987, has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.
Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Milken Awards are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.
This year, MFF is launching a #MyTeacherRocks Instagram campaign that encourages students to take selfies with their favorite teacher and describe in the caption why their teacher is special. To enter the contest, entrants are asked to follow @MilkenFamilyFdn on Instagram, post their selfie to their individual account and use the #MyTeacherRocks and #MilkenAward hashtags. The three photos with the most “likes” will be selected in November 2015, and February and April 2016.
To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.
The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at:
The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, were launched in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.