ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — An Ann Arbor teacher was surprised as the recipient of a $25,000 Milken Education Award during an assembly on Wednesday morning. Chad Downs, a third and fourth-grade teacher at Ann Arbor Open School, is the only winner of the Milken Education Award from Michigan this year.
Downs teaches Advanced English Language Arts, and "encourages students to follow their passion as they direct their own studies and track their progress." He also brings in guest speakers from the Ann Arbor community and also organizes trips to Detroit, Kalamazoo and the Henry Ford Museum.
The award is hailed by Teacher Magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching" and has been awarded for the past 30 years.
"Chad Downs demonstrates a commitment to student growth, parental involvement and community outreach which all contribute to making him an outstanding teacher," said Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley said in a release. "Teaching students to teach themselves, while helping others learn, is a gift to students that will last a lifetime."
Downs helped star the Super Hero Club, which consists of students who are advanced in English Language Arts and become mentors, helping their classmates with spelling and vocabulary. He's an Eastern Michigan graduate and also has a master's in education leadership from Concordia University.
“We congratulate Mr. Downs for this very deserving recognition. He is exemplary in how Michigan educators are delivering instruction in alternative ways to meet the individual needs of their students,” Michigan State Superintendent of Education Shelia Alles said. “When we attend to the whole child from the classroom to the home and community, as Mr. Downs does on a daily basis, students will overcome their learning barriers and be successful, lifelong learners. Their success will be Michigan’s success on our way to become a Top 10 education state in 10 years.