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Journey Elementary School teacher recognized with Milken Educator Award

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Friday, March 25, Journey Elementary School students and staff gathered for an assembly, but they didn’t know that one of their teachers was about to recognized for a national award.

Every year, the Milken Family Foundation surprises teachers across the country with an unrestricted financial award. The award is unique because educators don’t apply for the award, they are found by the foundation.

“I am just humbled and shocked and I am having a hard time finding words I’m shaking still,” said Milken Educator Award Recipient Rebecca Junge.

First Lady Jennie Gordon and Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder joined Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher to present the national recognition. Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso participated in the celebration to congratulate Junge and recognize Journey’s educators for the important work they do every day.

“I just think that there... I have so many people to thank for helping me get to this point,” said Junge.

Junge was one of the first Journey teachers to implement WyoTowne, a civic engagement and financial literacy program for students across Wyoming. As part of the program, Junge transforms her classroom into a campaign headquarters, where the electoral process comes to life as students run for class mayor. She has become a go-to resource for WyoTowne educators statewide.

“For Rebecca Junge, education is a living experience where students learn to think independently, explore self-identity and engage as productive citizens in our society. I commend Rebecca for blazing this important path at Journey, and proudly welcome her into the national Milken Educator Network,” said Gallagher.

Junge is among more than 60 educators coast-to-coast who will receive the Award during the 2021-22 school year and is the second recipient from Wyoming. Aaron Kruger, a social studies teacher at Central High School in Cheyenne, received the award as well. The last recipient from the Natrona County School District was awarded in 2007.

“As this season’s recipient of the Milken Award, Rebecca Junge is everything a teacher should be - and she fulfills her role that goes above and beyond all expectations. Caring, incredibly creative, obviously very hard-working, it’s teachers like Rebecca who will inspire some of our youth to become the same. Besides all of her other notable accomplishments in the classroom, I especially love what she’s done with financial literacy and what she does with special needs kids. Congratulations, Rebecca, and thank you for what you have done with - and for - our youth. You are one of Wyoming’s finest teachers and we are in awe of you,” said Schroeder.

As the fourth-grade team leader, Junge dives into student data to help develop strategies that best serve learners’ needs. She embraces the culture and methodology of project-based learning and shares her expertise freely with colleagues. She will drop everything to help a colleague, including adapting to shifting technology and strategies through the pandemic.

“We [Journey Elementary School] just are whole-hearted believers that if kids’ needs are not met first then we can’t learn and learning comes secondary to basic needs being met,” said Junge.

Milken Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award. Junge will join a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients across the U.S.

For more information about the Milken Family Foundation, visit their website.

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