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Harwood teacher receives National Educator Award


By Kara Herlihy

The Harwood Union High School auditorium was unusually raucous for 8:15 a.m. on Monday, October 29, where Susan Hennessey was surprised with the $25,000 National Educator Award by the Milken Family Foundation. 

Governor Jim Douglas and Vermont Education Commissioner Richard Cate were on hand to present the award. Principal Duane Pierson convened the assembly at Harwood without disclosing the true purpose, as requested by Milken.

A former English teacher, Hennessey's role at Harwood has evolved in recent years to focus on educating Harwood's, and the state's, students utilizing 21st-century skills and tools. Currently serving as the school library media specialist, Hennessey has "transformed the library from a simple research/literacy location into a dynamic, busy hub of curricular development and technological innovation and implementation," said Pierson.

A 12-year veteran of education in Vermont, Hennessey also serves on the Vermont Professional Development Network with state Department of Education staff providing professional development to other high school literacy educators.

"Susan is having a geometric influence on teachers across the state at all grade levels," said Department of Education literacy coordinator Marty Gephart. "What distinguishes her from other outstanding educators is that she is not just an outstanding educator, but her ability to see the integration across subjects and her motivation to work with others make that a reality."
State Departments of Education recommend candidates to the Foundation. This was the third year that Vermont has participated in the awards process. Previous years' recipients Bill Eschholz of Mount Mansfield Union High School and John Pandolfo of Spaulding High School were on hand for today's event to congratulate Hennessey.

Milken Educator award recipients may use their unrestricted $25,000 awards in any way they wish. First awarded in 1987, the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards were created to reward, retain and attract the highest quality K-12 educators to the profession.

This year Milken awarded 80 new Milken Educator Awards in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Hennessey will also travel to Los Angeles in March to the Milken Educator Awards National Conference.


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