Friday, October 28, 2005

Two D.C. teachers were awarded $25,000 each yesterday for inspirational and encouraging work in the classroom.

Sarah Bax, of Hardy Middle School in Northwest, and Rasheki Kuykendall, of Roots Public Charter School in Northwest, accepted the awards at school assemblies and are among about 100 U.S. teachers to receive the award this year from the California-based Milken Family Foundation.

Miss Bax looked stunned as Lowell Milken, the foundation’s co-founder and chairman, and actor Robert Townsend announced her award and the students erupted in cheers.

She also vowed not to rest on her accomplishments.

“It challenges me to take my efforts to a new level,” said Miss Bax, an eighth-grade teacher. “It reminds me to continue to push myself. Just like I tell my students: There’s always more you can do.”

Miss Bax, who has been teaching for 12 years and at Hardy since 2000, was integral in helping her eighth-graders become among the District’s best in math.

She also sponsored a school math team, which finished fourth in a citywide MathCounts competition.

Miss Bax said she has “no idea” what she will do with the $25,000.

“The money is exciting, but it’s just an honor to win,” she said. “I’ve always told students: ‘Do your work, work hard, and anything is possible.’ ”

The teachers are chosen annually by a panel appointed by each state’s department of education.

The prizes will be handed out through next Friday, and there are no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

The foundation first presented the awards to teachers in 1987. Since then, more than 2,100 awards totaling about $54 million have been given.

During the ceremony yesterday, Mr. Milken also urged students to consider entering the teaching profession.

“Teachers are stars, too, in our society,” he said. “One teacher, throughout his or her career, has the power to influence thousands of children.”

Miss Kuykendall, who has been at Roots Public Charter since it opened in 1999, teaches math, reading, science and social studies to students in fifth through eighth grades. She also teaches foreign languages and is fluent in French, Kiswahili and Spanish.

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