MCPS Teacher Wins Prestigious Milken Educator Award
MCPS teacher Dion Jones was surprised with the Milken Educator Award on Tuesday Jan. 10 at a vibrant school wide assembly. Jones, a third grade teacher at Fairland Elementary School is among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-2023 school year and the only one in the state of Maryland.
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury, MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight, Board of Education members, MCPS leadership, and principal Dr. Lakeisha D. Lashley all came together to present Jones with the prestigious recognition and the unrestricted $25,000 cash prize to be used however he likes in front students and staff.
“Dion Jones’ impact has a ripple effect across his students, their parents, his colleagues and his community,” said Dr. Foley, who is herself a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. “In his young career, he has already demonstrated himself as a leader, a teacher of excellence and a mentor to students and staff alike. For this, we are honored to present him with the Milken Educator Award today!”
The 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.
“Today we celebrate the work of Dion Jones whose outstanding commitment, passion and creativity capture the skill and art of exceptional teaching, which inspires learning, accelerates academic achievement and grows social and emotional well-being. Earning the prestigious national Milken Award, Mr. Jones has been recognized for setting the standard for student engagement throughout Maryland and across the country,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “By thoroughly understanding the needs of his students and tailoring lessons to each scholar’s personal interests with enthusiasm and empathy, Mr. Jones has catapulted his students to success and enabled them to reach their highest potential. The State of Maryland congratulates Fairland Elementary School, Montgomery County Schools and Mr. Jones for their steadfast dedication to Maryland students.”
“Being given a Milken Educator Award is a tremendous honor,” stated Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight. “Dion Jones is recognized by his students and colleagues as an outstanding educator who is committed to ensuring all students are learning. We congratulate him on receiving this prestigious and well-deserved award and commend Mr. Jones for his focus on student well-being and learning.”
On top of Tuesday’s celebration, Jones will have the opportunity to join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 exceptional K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this April.
More About Dion Jones
Students Shine in His Classroom: In Jones’ classroom, students are “scholars,” a moniker they live up to every day. He keeps students engaged by tailoring lessons, tasks and activities to their personal interests. Students work together to write a class newspaper featuring stories about each child. For a cross-content lesson on sound, Jones brings in a record player and some LPs. As they listen to the music, students discuss the records’ size and materials, chronicle changes in audio technology, and later interview family members and other teachers about their own experiences with record players. Jones’ students often assume the teaching role, developing leadership skills, confidence and ownership of learning. Each day starts with mindful minutes that allow students to breathe and share whatever is on their mind before they begin work. Together, the class recites an affirmation about being persistent learners who are willing to take risks. Thanks to Jones’ focus on both academics and social-emotional learning, his students’ performance shines. In 2021-22, they delivered 79.7% of the district’s projected growth in reading, 84.4% in math.
Strong Teacher Leader: Jones is a leader at Fairland and sits on the instructional leadership and school improvement plan teams. He trains and supports student teachers and educators new to the school and district, and he welcomes peer observers into his classroom. Jones has presented to Fairland staff and helped lead the school’s efforts around equitable practices in teaching. When COVID-19 closed school buildings in 2020, Jones delivered materials to students and colleagues and taught fellow teachers how to use Canva, FlipGrid, Pear Deck, Clever and other technology for virtual instruction. Colleagues value Jones for his organization, tenacity, inclusiveness and generosity.
Committed to Students’ Success: The relationships Jones builds with students and families are key to his success. Former students often stop to visit on their way to class, and Jones has shared his parent communication strategies with Fairland colleagues. He teaches summer school to get to know students before they arrive in his classroom and offers intense tutoring in math and literacy after school to help those whose learning has been interrupted by the pandemic. Jones’ students know they are loved, they have what they need to succeed at the highest levels, they are learning skills that will help them in the classroom and beyond, and their teacher will never give up on them.
Education: Jones earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2016 from Coppin State University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2020 from Grand Canyon University.