Daughter of migrant workers wins Milken award | Arkansas Blog

Friday, October 7, 2011

Daughter of migrant workers wins Milken award

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 10:09 AM

What a coincidence of timing. I'd just read another story on the flight of undocumented immigrants from Alabama because of draconian new law by which that state will cut off its nose to spite the employment needs it will face by jerking a welcome mat.

Then came happy news — Andrea Morales McKenna, a teacher at J.O. Kelly Middle School in Springdale, has been named this year's Arkansas winner of the Milken Educator Award, worth $25,000. From the state news release:

"Andrea is the teacher every principal is looking for," J.O. Kelly principal Sara Ford said. "She is at the top of her game, and she understands our students because she's been there. Andrea was an English Language Learner. She was also the perennial new kid in school, being the daughter of non-English speaking migrant workers. All of her life experiences have prepared her to be the powerful teacher and mentor she is today."

... McKenna teaches English as Second Language classes for 6th and 7th graders. She has taught in Springdale since 2002. Previously, she taught two years in the Dallas Independent School District in Dallas, Texas. She has a bachelor's degree from Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas.

"Talented teachers such as Ms. McKenna are a key ingredient in our efforts to keep students excited and engaged in learning so they stay in school and graduate prepared for the future," said [Education Director Tom] Kimbrell.

PS — I've inquired about immigration status of the winner's parents and her place of birth, just for the record. All may have been properly documented from the beginning. But I'm willing to bet McKenna is teaching some of those dreaded "illegal aliens" and helping them to make a better life and helping our state in the process by giving them the tools to do so. If the Republicans take over the legislature, only English will be countenanced and, if federal law can be overcome, services such as McKenna supplies will be in jeopardy. Should her students be able to stay in school and complete high school, they still won't be able to enjoy equally the fruits of colleges supported by their families' tax dollars, but rich Anglos from Texas will. For them, in-state tuition is OK.

Nice of Gov. Mike Beebe to deign to give McKenna her award. Too bad he won't get with Rick Perry on helping her students and students like hers when they get older.

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