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Where EAST meets the Northwest

EXEMPLARY EDUCATOR. Educator Janet Do (pictured) was named last month as a recipient of the Milken Educator Award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Do, the only Milken Educator Award winner from Oregon, was among the up to 40 honorees for 2018-2019. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

From The Asian Reporter, V29, #01 (January 7, 2019), page 11.

Portland teacher lifts student spirits and test scores at Whitman Elementary

Learning takes flight in Janet Do’s first-grade classroom at Whitman Elementary School in Portland, thanks to an eclectic yet rigorous approach. Leading her eager students in songs and rhythmic chants that help internalize important facts and concepts, Do also puts a higher-education spin on elementary learning as she refers to her young charges as scholars and mentors, employing individually targeted instruction that is differentiated to suit each student’s aptitudes and needs. Amping up student engagement with fun classroom activities serves a dual purpose: driving discipline referrals down and pushing achievement scores up, with most of her students making at least a 1.5-year leap in reading.

Last month Do was named a recipient of the Milken Educator Award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Do, the only awardee from Oregon, was among the up to 40 honorees for 2018-2019.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching," has been opening minds and shaping futures for more than 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate, and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, "The future belongs to the educated."

Making her students part of a better educated future for Do also includes encouraging community and family engagement, mentoring young teachers, promoting colleagues’ professional development, and advancing the school and district curriculum. As a product of Portland Public Schools (PPS) herself, Do is gifted with experience, empathy, and insight into local student needs including learners with behavioral challenges, special needs, or transient home-life situations.

"Janet’s well-rounded approach to supporting early learners is inspiring, and the success of her instruction is evidenced by her students’ enthusiasm and growth," said director of the Oregon Department of Education Colt Gill.

Walk into Janet Do’s first-grade classroom at Whitman and you’ll find a class of excited, fully engaged students making great strides in academic and social-emotional learning. Do leads them in rhythmic songs and chants to cement concepts, facts, and vocabulary as they work in small groups or independently.

In her "Justice Fighters" unit, Do introduces her young students to social issues in the community, taking on complex topics in an age-appropriate way. She constantly monitors the progress of every student, differentiating instruction to remove barriers, and works hard to make learning standards accessible for all students without sacrificing rigor. Do covers the walls of her classroom with work and instruction charts that include photos of herself and the children, encouraging students to visualize themselves in the work. She purposely uses academic language to refer to her young pupils, calling them scholars and mentors.

Do is a master at building community and creates a classroom that students and families love. She forms strong, genuine relationships, helps all students set and reach attainable goals, incorporates brain science and mindfulness techniques into her teaching, and is quick to advocate for children with special needs.

Whitman serves an area with many transient families, so Do welcomes new students into her classroom throughout the year, quickly making them and their families feel at home. She spends recess playing games on the playground. At lunchtime, students who have returned their daily reading logs earn the privilege of eating lunch with her. Do speaks Vietnamese and was instrumental in planning Whitman’s first Multicultural Night, where she set up a booth to teach children how to use chopsticks.

To learn more, visit <>. #milkenaward

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