[Baltimore Sun] Pasadena teacher wins national education award for giving students ‘unforgettable learning experience’

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Bradley Absher, a fifth grade math teacher at Bodkin Elementary in Pasadena, was one of two Maryland educators to receive the prestigious Milken Educator Award and a $25,000 cash reward on Wednesday.

Maggie Arnold, of Frederick High School, was the other recipient.

The Milken Educator Award recognizes exceptional educators in their early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

Greg Gallagher, senior program director for the Milken Educator Foundation was joined by interim Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carey M. Wright in presenting the awards.

“Through creative, hands-on instruction and collaboration, Bradley Absher is providing an unforgettable learning experience for his students,” Gallagher said. “His commitment to ensuring all learners reach their potential is inspiring and makes him an exciting addition to the national Milken Educator network.”

Absher, 31, who has been at the school since 2015, was surprised to be selected for the award — all he could do was put his head down and smile as he was showered with cheers and applause from the sea of Bodkin students in attendance.

“I never would have even imagined this happening to me,” Absher said. “I honestly thought it was just going to be an opportunity for some school board members to highlight our school, say Bodkin was awesome, maybe give the school some money and the day would be done.”

Absher said the work he does each day isn’t for an award but simply because of his love for his students.

“I had zero expectations, I just want to say thank you to everyone involved,” he said. “I’ve been here for nine years now, I love this school. I live right down the street, so this has been an amazing opportunity to work here, and I enjoy every minute of it.”

Wright helped Superintendent of Schools Mark Bedell present the award to Absher. Wright said Absher’s excellence in the classroom is truly commendable.

“Great teachers like Bradley have a long-lasting effect on a student’s success and I thank the Milken Family Foundation for recognizing and celebrating great teaching in Maryland,” she said.

Absher earned his associate’s degree in teaching from Anne Arundel Community College in 2013, his bachelor’s in science in elementary education from Towson University in 2015, and his master’s in education specializing in elementary math from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2023.

Gallagher calls The Milken Award, the “Oscars of Teaching.” The foundation plans to honor 75 recipients across the country for the 2023-24 school year en route to the foundation’s goal of reaching its 3,000th awardee and $144 million in financial prizes, he said.

Along with money and the celebration at the school, honorees will attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum this June in Los Angeles, where they will get the opportunity to network with fellow winners as well as veteran Milken Educators. This gathering also serves as a setting for discussions about how to grow their impact on K-12 education.

Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels.

The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken to celebrate outstanding educators and provide a financial gain of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country.

Absher, whose wife is pregnant, said the prize money will be “really awesome” for all the expenses they have coming up.

 

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