Kimberly Freeman, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, and full-time Latin instructor and chair of the world language department at Lexington Middle School in Lexington, SC, was awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award, February 9, 2016. Freeman is an International Baccalaureate Middle Years certified teacher currently attending the UofSC working toward her Master’s in Educational Leadership with graduation set for May 2016.
The Milken Educator Awards program has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The $25,000 cash award is Freeman’s to spend anyway she wishes.
Freeman frames her Lexington, SC Latin world language classes, lessons and assessment practices around collaboration and critical thinking, and has helped guide the district to a shift in performance-based curriculum for world languages.
Freeman propelled the once-struggling Latin program to high enrollment at the school, and expanded its reach to 23,000 students districtwide through virtual courses. She has opened the door for learners to discover an ancient language and culture though a blended curriculum that links to modern tools and learning goals. This includes capitalizing on student interests of Harry Potter and mythology as well as The Hunger Games.
Her students are thriving with work beyond their years. They routinely score above the national average on the National Latin Exam and outperform high school students in world language courses. Her Latin academic team placed first at the South Carolina Certamen Competition in spring 2014.
As chair of the world language department and teacher leadership team, communications officer for the school and frequent presenter at local and national conferences, Freeman has made a significant impact on teachers and students alike. Colleagues follow her example, especially when it comes to building respectful relationships with students, and her insight is sought out by peers and administrators.
Freeman is an International Baccalaureate Middle Years certified teacher. She serves as a member of the American Classical League, National Junior Classical League, South Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, South Carolina Foreign Language Teachers Association as well as the district and state world language curriculum teams, the state standard writing team and the state Foundations of School Leadership Program. Her strategies are leading the way toward producing plurilingual graduates, a key goal of the district.
The Milken Educator Awards was conceived by the Milken Family Foundation to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession. Since 1987, the Milken Family Foundation has devoted more than $137 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards, including over $66 million in individual Awards to more than 2,600 recipients plus powerful professional development opportunities and networking with leading education stakeholders.