SALISBURY, MD---When Dana Perdue attended a morning assembly at Central Elementary School in Edgewater, MD, she had no idea she was the guest of honor or that she would walk away with a $25,000 check.
Surprised in front of students, faculty, and staff, the 2000 Salisbury University graduate accepted the prestigious $25,000 Milken Educator Award for exceptional educational talent from Lewis Solmon, president of the National Institute for Excellence and senior advisor and member of the Milken Family Foundation Board of Trustees, and Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland state superintendent of schools.
Perdue, an educator for six years, is free to use the cash prize in any manner she chooses. She receives the actual monetary award in April at the Milken National Education Conference in Los Angeles.
“Dana Perdue not only demonstrates exceptional and effective instructional practices, but her manner of teaching highly motivates her students to succeed in the classroom,” said Grasmick. “Dana is creative and innovative in her lesson plans as she provides many exciting hands-on activities encouraging her students to “think outside the box” and to always take pride in their work.”
Perdue earned her B.S. in elementary education from SU, graduating summa cum laude. The third-grade chairperson at Central Elementary for the past three years, she has seen Maryland State Assessment test scores improve since 2003. Today, they are among the highest third-grade scores in Maryland.
“We are all very proud of Dana,” said Dr. Dennis Pataniczek, dean of SU’s Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies. “She exemplifies the best in teaching and is a wonderful reflection of the SU program. Dana completed her internship in the Worcester County Professional Development School under Dr. Keith Conners’ supervision, and she was selected as the commencement speaker that year. We salute Dana and offer our congratulations to her.”
A lead teacher of language arts, math, science and social studies in grades 3-5 at Central Elementary, she also mentors new teachers and develops school schedules.
“Dana exhibits outstanding work ethic and a passion as a classroom teacher,” said Rocco Ferretti, principal of Central Elementary. “As she begins her sixth year of teaching third grade it is obvious that Ms. Perdue is a master teacher and an honor to the teaching profession.”
Beyond school, Perdue is active in The New Hope Community Church, where she has volunteered her time as a youth director, led a mission trip to Mexico and taught religious classes to 3-5-year-olds. She also has worked at the Ruth Parker Eason Special Education Center, teaching disabled senior citizens, and primary grade and pre-school students. In addition, she has organized and captained Central Elementary’s Relay For Life team and led a Canning Hunger team to collect and deliver food for shelters in Pasadena, MD.
The Milken Educator Award is presented each fall to exceptional teachers nominated by education departments in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Criteria considered include exceptional talent; distinguished achievement in developing innovative educational curricula, programs, and methods; outstanding ability to develop students’ character and self confidence; and commitment to professional development. Fewer than 100 will be presented this year.
Other SU alumnae also have earned the prestigious award, most recently in 2002. That year, Terry Smith (B.S. 1991, M.Ed. 2001), a teacher at Buckingham Elementary School in Berlin, MD, received the prize.
For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.