It isn’t often that a gym teacher in Alaska receives national recognition for her work in the field, but that is exactly what happened to Jenna White. White is a physical education teacher in Anchorage who was recently presented with the national Milken Educator Award at a surprise ceremony. The Milken awards were first given in 1985 and have been considered in the national educational community as the Oscars for teachers.
There are about 100 of these “Education Oscars” presented to teachers throughout the United States every year to administrators and teachers of various subjects by the Milken Family Foundation. Recipients of the awards are selected based on several criteria such as educational talent, leadership, and “accomplishments beyond the classroom.”
According to several administrators in the Anchorage School District, White has been an exemplary PE educator and has a genuine passion for and commitment to her students and to the business of teaching physical fitness. She was commended during the ceremony for her work in incorporating parents and other staff members into the PE activities of the students.
One example of White’s commitment to each individual student was demonstrated when she took a few of them – who had recently moved to Anchorage from warm-weather regions and who had never experienced the elements of a cold winter – ice skating and cross country skiing in order to provide for them a fun introduction to their new environment.
White says that she relocated to Anchorage in 2008 after she earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in physical education in Arkansas which is where she was born and raised. She worked for a full year as a “traveling educator” in Anchorage, hopping from school to school within the district before being hired on in her current permanent position. Her award included a $25,000 cash prize.