Juneau principal honored
Molly Yerkes, the principal at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School in Juneau, was surprised with an unrestricted $25,000 Milken Educator Award at a school-wide assembly. This prestigious honor will be bestowed upon up to 40 of America’s most outstanding secondary school educators in 2013. Alaska’s Commissioner of Education and Early Development Michael Hanley joined Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president, Milken Educator Awards to present the award, the only one given in Alaska this year. Internationally-educated Yerkes taught English in China before becoming principal at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School.
An engaged educator whose support of teachers is matched by her connection to the wider community, Yerkes encourages staff to take advantage of resources available outside of the classroom. She even created a fitness program for teachers to boost morale during the dark winter months. Earning the loyalty of teachers and students alike, Yerkes has become a valuable asset to Dzantik’i Heeni through a uniquely hands-on approach.
Yerkes’ commitment to her teachers is on full display as she visits every classroom in the school each week, to observe and evaluate both staff and student progress. Cited by colleagues for her ability to effectively communicate, Yerkes brings along her laptop on these visits, taking notes so that she can provide the best feedback to teachers and parents, should they have a question. The classroom visits have been working.
Scores for all subjects at Dzantik’i Heeni are above state average for every grade level. Seventh-grade writing scores are 11 pecent higher than the Alaskan average and 8th-grade math is an impressive 12 percent higher. Taking students to the next level, Yerkes promotes the AVID program, which encourages students to take advanced classes in preparation for college.
— Milken Family Foundation