DC Literacy Specialist Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

The Howard University alumna was also commended by Christina Grant, the state’s Superintendent of Education for her use of innovative techniques and mentoring other educators.

Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, tells the meeting that one of the best teachers in the country is at Seaton Elementary.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

Students react to news that one of their teachers is about to win the Milken Educator Award and $25,000.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

    Reading specialist Jenelle Bryant can't believe it - she's the winner of DC's Milken Award and $25,000!

Reading specialist Jenelle Bryant learns she has won the Milken Award.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

With cameras and microphones capturing every word, Jenelle interviews her surprising report of the Milken Educator Award.

Jenelle Bryant said she felt like she was in a dream.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

Reading specialist Jenelle Bryant is the only DC teacher to receive the honor this year.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

While DC Public Schools Deputy Chancellor Dr.  Melissa Kim looks on, Washington DC Superintendent of Education congratulates Dr.  Christina Grant Jenelle Bryant with her Milken Educator Award.

As DC Public Schools Deputy Chancellor Melissa Kim looks on, DC Superintendent of Education Christina Grant congratulates Jenelle Bryant on her Milken Educator Award.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

Jenelle Bryant FaceTimes her husband to tell him about her surprising Milken Educator Award.  She points her phone to the huge check held by Dr. Christina Grant (left) and Dr. Shavonne Gibson, assistant superintendent of education in Washington DC, and Dr. Shavonne Gibson, assistant superintendent of the OSSE, to showing him that it has her new last name on it (the two recently got married).

Jenelle Bryant tells her husband about the prize via FaceTime. She points her phone to the huge check held by DC Superintendent of Education Christina Grant, left, and OSSE assistant superintendent Shavonne Gibson, to show him it bears her new last name. The two recently married.

Thanks to Milken Family Foundation

DC educator Jenelle Bryant took home one of the top teacher recognition awards on Thursday, $25,000 and praise from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Oprah Winfrey at a Milken Educator Award meeting at Seaton Elementary School on Thursday.

Bryant, a specialist in reading recovery, received the award for her work helping her K-1 students master the necessary reading skills.



She is the only educator in the District to receive the honor this year, and rightly so.

Nearly 90% of students who complete Bryant’s classwork will no longer need her support by the end of the school year.

The awards group added that Bryant’s “dropout rate” — how many students no longer need her help with reading — is 88%, “significantly higher than both DC Public Schools and the nation.”

The reading specialist was surprised when she accepted the award and asked her students to squeeze her “because I feel like I’m in a dream!”

“My family is made up of immigrants and I am my grandparents’ dream,” Bryant said. “You can do anything you want, just like I do what I want to do.”

Look what Oprah had to say:

The Howard University alumna was also commended by Christina Grant, the state’s Superintendent of Education, for her use of innovative techniques and mentoring other educators.

“Jenelle’s expertise is vital to a strong recovery of our students after the pandemic,” Grant said. “Thank you, Jenelle, and congratulations on receiving the Milken Educator Award for the District of Columbia.”

Jane Foley, the senior vice president for educators awards, presented the award to Bryant in front of her school’s students, along with district staff and school principal Suzie Jacobs. Foley praised the trust and respect the students feel from Bryant and their families.

“Learning to read proficiently is one of the greatest gifts a teacher can give to her students,” Foley said. “Jenelle Bryant works with young learners to instill confidence at an early age so they can be successful throughout their education.”

Bryant received her bachelor’s degree in human development from Howard University in 2012, and graduated a year later with a master’s degree in early childhood education. She chairs Seaton Elementary’s stock committee, leads professional development and anti-bias training, and mentors other reading specialists in the region through the DC Reading Clinic.

More than 60 teachers nationwide received the Milken Educator Awards this year. The Milken Family Foundation has been recognizing educators since 1987.

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