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Howard Alumna Jenelle Bryant Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Black woman smiles in camera

WASHINGTON — Howard University alum, Jenelle Bryant, has been named one of 60 teachers nationwide to receive the prestigious Milken Education Award. Bryant earned a bachelor’s in human development in 2011 and master’s in early childhood education in 2012 from Howard.

Since 1987, the Milken Awards, an initiative of the Milken Family Foundation, has awarded educators around the country with $25,000 unrestricted awards. The award “targets early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future, according to the foundation’s website.

Dawn Williams, Ph.D., dean of Howard University School of Education, offered her congratulations. saying, “We are so proud of the work of our graduates, and humbled that they are being recognized at the highest levels of the profession. The dedication of Ms. Bryant serves as a constant reminder of the impact, both large and small, that teachers have on the early positive development of children: both academic and social.”

Bryant is a K-2 reading recovery specialist at Seaton Elementary School in Washington, D.C. and is the only D.C. educator to receive the Milken Award for the 2021-22 award season. Bryant works intensively with a small group of students every semester who are struggling with reading proficiency. She uses individual student data to develop hands-on, cross-curricular and kinesthetic lessons. Her approach to learning has yielded great success for her students. Eighty-eight percent no longer need her support by the end of the school year.

Bryant emphasizes the impact that Howard had on her development as an educator. As a first generation American, with parents hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Howard gave her freedom to be herself and interact with people from diverse backgrounds in the surrounding community.

“After my sophomore year I started getting internships and exploring opportunities in the school and in the nonprofit sector and I fell in love with D.C., so I decided to stay in D.C. after graduation and immediately started to work for D.C. Public Schools,” Bryant said. “Originally, I had worked right down the street from what was Meridian dorm, and that was a very diverse community. We had a lot of English language learners at the time. It was an IB school, so our curriculum was based on inquiry but also from the international perspective and it was there that I fell in love with ESL (English as a second language) students.”

Her former instructor James Jackson, Ph.D. said, “Janelle, like many of her classmates, was a stellar student who embodied the missions of Howard University and the School of Education very early in her tenure. Her deep commitment to improving the lives of marginalized groups was apparent during her matriculation in that she focused on the strengths of students before it surfaced as philosophical foundation for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.”

Bryant excels in her educational practice by tailoring her instruction to each student’s specific needs, understanding that every student learns in differently. She makes the point that her instruction is equitable, not equal. Bryant plans to use the funds from the Milken award to network with like-minded educators and expand her personal practice.

“I would really like to expand my work with equity and family engagement. I feel like working with families and collaborating with families has really helped bridge the gap between home and school, which has also been part of my success story. I want to continue to learn and to grow as a professional and give my students and their teachers new skills and knowledge,” she said.


About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 14 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu