Prince George’s County Public School science educator Angela Malone was among the Milken Family 2016 honorees for outstanding teacher. Malone was surprised with the award Feb. 18 at Oxon Hill Middle School. (Courtesy Photo)

The stress of teaching in urban public schools is, according to the think tank The New Teacher Project (TNTP), one of the most common factors in poor teacher retention. To better support and celebrate those instructors who hit their marks, Milken Family Foundation established an annual Educator Award in 1987. This year’s top prize was awarded to Oxon Hill Middle School teacher Angela Malone.

Surrounded by fellow educators, students, and Oxon Hill Middle School Principal Wendell Coleman, Malone was lauded for her exceptional work that serves as a model for the state and the nation. ” Congratulations to Angela Malone on this wonderful honor. It is well-deserved and I am very proud of her and all of the hard-working educators in our district,” said Dr. Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer for the county’s public school system.

Malone teaches seventh and eighth grade honors science and is also the department’s chair. As a part of her honor, Malone received a cash prize of $25,000 and holds the distinction of being the only educator in the state of Maryland to receive the honor this school year.

Malone told the AFRO that in the two weeks leading up to the award, she had begun to feel frustrated about how much of a difference she was making in the lives of her students. “I love the kids and my administrators, but the policies that we don’t have control over were beginning to make me feel helpless because those who make those policies are not with the kids,” she said. “I literally began to pray whether or not it was time to move into a different area of education, like policy making, when God answered that prayer with this honor.”

Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, presented Malone the award. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Interim Maryland State Superintendent Jack R. Smith, Prince George’s County Board of Education Chair Segun Eubanks, Board Member Edward Burroughs III, and Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Dr. Kevin M. Maxwell were also present.

“I was taught by so many spectacular teachers growing up and this organization is calling out these teachers so that they know they are important,” said Malone, who made her mark at Oxon Hill Middle School by merging the arts with science. “The kids are my focus 100 percent of the time and there is never a situation where you are not needed. That is what continues to spur me on.”

Malone’s surprise honor, which took place, Feb. 18, placed her among roughly 40 educators who will receive the prestigious national honor during the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) coast-to-coast tour during the 2015-16 Awards season. The Milken Family Fund, which was started by noted junk bond investor Michael Milken and his brother Lowell, devotes more than $137 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards, including over $66 million in individual Awards to more than 2,600 recipients.