NORTH PROVIDENCE – In a surprise ceremony this morning, Janine Napolitano, chair of the English department at North Providence High School, was honored with a $25,000 Milken Family Foundation 2007 National Educator Award.
“Janine believes in setting high standards and she challenges her students,” Gov. Donald L. Carcieri said in presenting the award to Napolitano. “She is known for implementing innovative teaching methodologies and has a passion for helping all students achieve. Janine sets a positive example for all to follow.
“I also want to commend Janine for serving on the senior-project committee. Senior projects will form a critical part of the new high-school graduation requirements.”
Also taking part in the 9:30 ceremony were Robert J. Flanders Jr., chairman of the R.I. Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education; Peter McWalters, state commissioner of elementary and secondary education; and Joseph B. Goho, the high school principal, who was the only person at the school who knew of the award in advance.
[The precautions paid off in total surprise, Napolitano told the Providence Business News in a telephone interview the next day. “I’m still shaking,” she said. “They shocked me, they really did.”]
The Milken Educator Awards honor individuals who demonstrate excellence in the classroom and promote excellence in their schools. Candidates are nominated without their knowledge, by a panel of educators and other community members
Napolitano has been an English teacher since 1995, and a member of the faculty at North Providence High for the past seven years. She also is active as a co-founder and co-chair of the high school’s Literacy Team and a member of the executive board of the Rhode Island Writing Project. A graduate of Rhode Island College – where she devoted her master’s thesis to “teaching reluctant learners” – she is the author of a professional research article, “Hearing Voices,” about the effective use of journals in the English classroom.
She previously has been honored by the Rhode Island Council of Teachers of English as the RICTE English Teacher of the Year.
“Janine Napolitano is known in this school and around the state for her capacity to get students of all ability levels to read well and to write effectively,” Flanders said in a statement. “She is one of the reasons why the English test scores in North Providence High School have been steadily improving. Her work, in which she focuses on reaching out to reluctant readers, should be an inspiration to high-school educators throughout the state.”
The award was the 66th in Rhode Island since the state joined the Milken Educator Awards program 17 years ago. This year, there will be up to 18 winners nationwide.
[Napolitano told PBN that, besides the $25,000 prize – “and it’s not for the district, it’s for me” – she will receive an expense-paid trip to California in the spring, to the national conference where she will receive her award. “I hear it’s a swank event – black tie, red carpet,” the excited teacher said, adding: “It’s in Los Angeles, and I’ve never been.”]