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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Young John Muir Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Young John Muir Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

by Terry Miller
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John Muir High School teacher, Manuel Rustin was extremely surprised when his name was called for the award. – Photos by Terry Miller

Young John Muir Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

A John Muir High School teacher, Manuel Rustin, recieved an unrestricted $25,000 Milken Educator Award at a surprise schoolwide assembly Tuesday morning. Presented by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Jon R. Gundry, the prestigious award recognizes the exceptional work of this educator as a model for the state and nation. This event is part of the Milken Family Foundation’s 25th Annual National Notifications tour honoring up to 40 outstanding educators as 2011-12 Milken Educator Award recipients.

Rustin, a 2003 UCLA graduate with a B.A. in History and a minor in Education studies, earned an M.Ed in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2004. As a lead teacher for Muir’s High’s Smaller Learning Comminity (SLC) in Arts , entertainment and media ( AEM), Rustin creates a stimulating environment when he offered a state test “boot camp” after school for a group of 30 students.

Photographs by Terry Miller

His teaching effectiveness is characterized by an innovative approach to instruction which has motivated higher thinking skills, increased peer learning relationships and strengthened ties between the curriculum and real world. Standout projects have been to create songs and performances about the Constitution and establish Facebook profiles for historical figures.
Rustin also drives his students to think independently and prepares them for college. In his classes, they become versed in performing self-assessments and charting goals. Rustin conducts his own assessments of students at the beginning, middle and end of the year. In a school that had traditionally been underperforming, Rustin’s students are seeing noticeable gains in achievement.

The Milken Educator Awards, conceived by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession, is the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine. Including this year’s selections, since 1987 over $63 million has been awarded to more than 2,500 educators. A total of $137 million has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout the recipients’ careers in education.

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