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Teaching Tech

Alumna receives prestigious Milken Educator Award

Jennifer Reaves looks at laptop with fellow colleague

Jennifer Reaves is a CEHS alumna who works as a technology integration specialist at Mylan Park Elementary School in Morgantown, West Virginia. In this role, Reaves wears many hats, including managing the school’s social media accounts.

When Reaves was invited to a school assembly in December 2018, she had her phone ready to take photos to post to Mylan Park’s Twitter profile. As the assembly began, she realized that the nature of the event was not what she had been led to believe.

“This was an un expected assembly, it was a surprise,” Reaves said. “There were people from all over the state, including State Superintendent Dr. Paine, our county superintendents and my principal. It was a big ruse because they told me it was going to be about something else and, indeed, it was for my Milken Educator Award.”

The Milken Educator Award is presented annually by the Milken Family Foundation to one early to mid-career K-12 teacher, principal or specialist from each state. Educators who receive this honor are nominated by their peers for outstanding educational practices. Much like Reaves’ experience, the awards are notoriously presented at surprise school-wide assemblies. Winners receive a $25,000 check, as well a pin and certificate.

“Nothing in my life has ever happened to me like this before, so it was very humbling and very honoring,” Reaves said, “It’s still fresh. It was very lovely, and I feel very honored to be chosen to represent the state of West Virginia.”

Reaves graduated from West Virginia University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. After entering the work force, she realized journalism wasn’t her passion. She then returned to WVU and pursued a two-year master’s program in elementary education and reading from CEHS.

“My education at WVU in the College of Education and Human Services was really vital to my teaching career now,” Reaves said. “I learned great pedagogy and great strategies, things that translate whether you’re teaching in the classroom with pencil and paper or working in the classroom with a one-to-one device.”

With all that Reaves does in service to Mylan Park Elementary, her selection as West Virginia’s 2018 Milken Educator comes as no surprise. Reaves’ position at the school involves a wide variety of responsibilities, including the management and maintenance of all of the building’s technology devices. Mylan Park is a one-to-one school, meaning every student has access to a laptop or comparable device.

In addition, Reaves works with students in the school’s computer and innovation labs, where the students are able to experiment with new technologies. Recently, Reaves earned a grant to purchase robots that require students to use coding to control various commands. After school, Reaves is a coach for the school’s Girls Who Code Club, an organization that instills girls with computer science skills to encourage them to pursue careers in technology.

Beyond her work with students, Reaves coaches her fellow teachers and helps them integrate technology in their classrooms.

“I love my job because it gives me the opportunity to not only work with students, but it also gives me the opportunity to work with teachers,” Reaves said. “It’s something that I’m truly passionate about. Having an awesome lesson and then adding technology makes it a home run.”

For Reaves, the core of her profession is about equipping students with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to have successful careers down the line. This is especially essential for the future of West Virginia.

“I’m extremely proud of where we’re going and how we’re moving West Virginia forward here at Mylan Park Elementary,” Reaves said.