For the love of teaching

Yanaiza Gallant

Born in Cuba, Yanaiza Gallant ’98 BSW, ’03 BA, ’12 MEd entered the school system in America as an ESL learner. Today she teaches at one of the most academically challenged schools in Rhode Island – the Lillian Feinstein @ Sackett Elementary School – and refers to her students as “my kids.”

On October 10 she received a surprise visit at Lillian Feinstein from Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who presented her with the 2012 Milken Educator Award for her exceptional work as a reading intervention specialist. The award comes with an unrestricted payment of $25,000. Also present was Acting Education Commissioner David Abbott and Jane Foley of the Milken Family Foundation.

“Yanaiza represents the best among Rhode Island teachers,” said George Caruolo, Chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.

In just nine years of teaching, Gallant has achieved record-level success in student achievement while working in some of the most poverty-stricken communities in Providence.

“Teachers love her,” said one of her colleagues. “[She’s] recognized by both her peers and district leadership as an incredible leader, with a contagious level of energy and enthusiasm, and a gift for developing the skills of her colleagues and students alike,” said Susan Lusi, Providence schools superintendent.

This fall, about 40 educators around the country will receive 2012 Milken Educator Awards. Educators do not apply for the award, nor are they aware that they have been nominated for the honor. The program has been administered in Rhode Island since 1990, and there have been 71 Milken Award winners so far in the state.