The look on third grade teacher Jacqueline Simms' face was priceless. She was stunned, crying as she was surprised with a $25,000 Milken educator award by Wall Street philanthropist Mike Milken.
Known as the Oscar of teaching, the National prize recognizes excellence and leadership in early to mid-career educators whose work has gone largely unheralded. But today wasn't Simms' day to go unnoticed. Everyone in the Anne Beers elementary school auditorium in Southeast D.C. clapped, shouted danced and cried for Simms when they realized what was supposed to be just a regular school assembly was actually the Milken Award being given out to one of their colleagues.
"I'm very very excited … very surprised … just completely overwhelmed," Simms said after the presentation. "When I woke up this morning, I would have never have thought ... I'm glad I won and I thank God.
"This prize says to me that our profession is thought about in a society where entertainment is the focus of everything," she continued. "This means a lot."
Simms is described as a legendary force of nature at the school. She has set up educational programs for both regular and special needs students, mentoring and leadership programs with law firms and the FBI, a play writing program with a local theatre group and even an all-volunteer Saturday school session.
The Milken awards have been given out for the past 26 years. Simms is the 10th recipient from the District.