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Milken Educator Awards Kicks Off 2022-23 Season in Rhode Island: Third Grade Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Prize

Gov. McKee and Lt. Gov. Matos join Milken Family Foundation to present Award to East Providence educator Emily Rendine, first of up to 40 recognized during nationwide tour

October 5, 2022

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.  — Third grade teacher Emily Rendine of Hennessey Elementary School in East Providence received the surprise of a lifetime today—a $25,000 Milken Educator Award presented by the Milken Family Foundation. Gov. Daniel McKee and Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos joined Milken Family Foundation Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Commissioner of Education Angélica Infante-Green to announce the Award during a schoolwide assembly of cheering students, appreciative colleagues, local dignitaries, and media. Rendine was recognized for her innovative and motivating teaching style while fostering empowerment and independence amongst her students. 

"We are thrilled to begin another season of recognizing and celebrating our nation's outstanding educators with the Milken Educator Award. I am happy to welcome Emily Rendine to our vast, talented network," said Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. "Emily's creativity in engaging her students, fostering impressive student growth, and leading professional development on a larger scale are just some of the many ways she exemplifies a Milken Educator." 

The Awards will honor up to 40 elementary educators in the 2022-2023 school year. Over the past 35 years, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers.  

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year's winners' list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced in front of cheering students, appreciative colleagues, education officials at all levels, and journalists. 

"Congratulations to Emily and the entire East Providence school community on their special recognition from Milken! We are so grateful to have such a passionate, dynamic and inspirational educator leading our children and serving as a shining example of educational excellence," said Commissioner Infante-Green. "From encouraging students to reach their full potential, to embracing a growth mindset, Emily is preparing our students for success. Thank you, Emily, for your commitment to our children, Hennessey Elementary School, and the families and future of Rhode Island."  

More About Emily Rendine 

Positive Results Through Tailored Instruction and Ownership of Learning: Rendine encourages her students to practice "productive struggle," which inspires them to take risks in order to foster empowerment and ownership of learning. In her classroom she creates an environment where activities are tailored to students' learning styles as they rotate through stations with individualized activities, meeting children at their varying levels. Her students embrace a growth mindset as they dive into projects like creating machine launchers or exchanging letters with third grade pen pals across the country. During the pandemic, Rendine led her students on more than two dozen virtual field trips, including to sports arenas, a topiary garden and the Basketball Hall of Fame. Thanks in part to her leadership and innovative teaching style, Hennessey Elementary's state rating improved significantly from priority status to a three-star rating (out of five). During the 2021-22 school year, her students charted significant growth, going from 28% to 67% proficiency for reading and from 12% to 55% for writing. 

Professional Development and Leadership: Rendine's investment in her students, involvement within her school and dedication to her craft are palpable as she serves on Hennessey's Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and Equity committees, leads an annual STEAM night, and has participated in training to ensure equitable access to the school's most marginalized populations. She leads professional development in literacy with a special focus on teaching students with dyslexia – a subject for which she holds certification and is especially passionate about. Rendine serves as the lead teacher for the Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) Writing initiative. She also secured grants to create and maintain a school garden, which has helped students better understand the value of green space in urban communities, and contains features like rain barrels that serve as visuals for discussions about water conservation. The garden is tended by her students during the year and by the local Boys and Girls Club over the summer. 

Education: Rendine earned a bachelor's in elementary education and psychology in 2012 from Saint Michael's College, followed by a master's in reading and a certificate in dyslexia knowledge and practice from the University of Rhode Island in 2021.

More About the Milken Educator Awards: "The future belongs to the educated."

Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. 
  • In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFF) mentoring program, in which new Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • "We find you. You don't find us!" Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.   

To receive regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MIlkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@MIlken), YouTube (/MIlkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward). 

For more information, visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772. 

About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 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. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at