Awards given by the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) include the John H. Lounsbury Distinguished Service Award and the Educator of the Year (formerly the Distinguished Educator Award). Conversation about the purpose of these awards range from personal gratification to career advancement. My belief and those of former recipients indicate that these awards serve as a means to honor a school community for the teamwork exerted to make positive changes for young adolescents.
Receiving the Distinguished Educator Award created pride for what my team of teachers, administrators, parents, community, family, and students had accomplished. We worked together to turn a challenging environment into one that celebrated our young adolescents! My school community celebrated with me because this award represented their hard work. I still remember the joy the students expressed; they thought the award came for the work THEY had done! The all-school celebration rocked with excitement for achieving something TOGETHER.
Former Lounsbury award winners echoed these thoughts. Judy Brough stated: "This award reinforces the notion that mentoring yields results. We learn from each other. It honors my mentors and my students. It recognized dedication to educating ALL young adolescents in a way that is consistent with their needs and characteristics."
Micki Caskey shared a deeply personal response: "I was so surprised, delighted, and humbled. I felt two people's presence beside me on the stage, though neither was in attendance. One was John Lounsbury. The other person was my mother who passed away four months earlier. As the saying goes, she was my hero and 'the wind beneath my wings.'"
Michelle Hayward reflected on receiving the Distinguished Educator Award. "Receiving this honor was one of the great highlights of my career. However, the award was not only about me; it was about the opportunity to promote middle level education to a larger audience and to showcase the incredible students, staff, families, and school community. It offered a platform for our school to provide professional development through teacher leaders. Paying it forward and growing our profession was a residual that has created more middle level leaders."
As you can tell from the responses from some of the many former recipients, this award goes beyond personal gratification. It serves as a validation and vehicle to promote the message of the middle level. It creates an environment that serves as the foundation for excellent strategies to help ALL young adolescents succeed.
John Lounsbury poignantly offered the following comments: "As you can imagine, I had a hard time coming to grips with putting into perspective my name being used so prominently. However, I do believe that putting a face on the middle school movement has real merit. This award identifies those strong leaders and real people, and places them in the historical record of what has to be classified as a successful movement."
Read the requirements and deadlines to nominate someone for the John Lounsbury Award or the Educator of the Year award at amle.org. Help promote the positive work being done for young adolescents!
Pamela Millikan is an AMLE Distinguished Educator Award winner and past president of AMLE. She is a retired school administrator from Franklin, Indiana.
Published in AMLE Magazine
, February 2018.