RIC summer program teacher receives Milken Educator Award

Michael Lobdell
Pilgrim High School science teacher Michael Lobdell was shocked at the news that he had won a 2011 Milken Educator Award – and a check for $25,000.

Lobdell received word of his award at a surprise ceremony at a school assembly that included U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, and Deborah A. Gist, commissioner of elementary and secondary education.

Lobdell participated for two summers in RIC’s Large Molecule-Small Molecule Title II project. The three-year program was developed and mentored by RIC professors Paul Tiskus and John Williams of the Physical Sciences Department under the auspices of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Six to eight science teachers spent one week learning techniques of DNA biochemistry and computational chemistry and applying them to the study of DNA-small molecule interactions. During the following week, the high-school teachers taught the techniques to a group of their students who then performed the experiments.

At the end of that week, the students provided PowerPoint presentations and posters on their experiments.

Michael Lobdell's Milken Educator Award ceremony on Oct. 19 was attended by, from front left, U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin; Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee; Jane Foley, Milken Family Foundation senior vice president; and Deborah A. Gist, commissioner of elementary and secondary education. (Photo: Milken Family Foundation)
“Michael was a standout among an outstanding group of teachers who participated over the three years,” Williams said. “This was underscored by his selection as this year's Milken Award winner.”

He is in good company, added Williams, who noted that a teacher in the first summer of the program, Shannon Donovan, was selected as the Rhode Island Teacher of the Year for 2010.

The Milken Educator Award provides public recognition and an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education, according to the Milken Family Foundation website ( www.mff.org).