It’s an escape room! It’s a circus! It’s a polling place! Actually, it’s Rebecca Junge’s fourth grade classroom. At Journey Elementary School in the Natrona County School District, Wyoming, Junge (pronounced “Young”) has set new expectations for lesson plans that capture the attention and creativity of her students. Examples include translating their favorite games like “Super Mario” and “Among Us” into practical skills. Junge, Adams State University Class of 2016, received a Milken Educator Award for broadening her students’ horizons.
The national recognition includes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Junge will join a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients across the U.S. She is among more than 60 educators coast-to-coast who will receive the Award during the 2021-22 school year.
Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.
More About Rebecca Junge
Civic Engagement: Junge was one of the first Journey teachers to implement WyoTowne, a civic engagement and financial literacy program for students across Wyoming. As part of the program, Junge transforms her classroom into a campaign headquarters, where the electoral process comes to life as students run for class mayor. She has become a go-to resource for WyoTowne educators statewide. Junge’s student mayor was invited to speak and deliver a proclamation at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming WyoTowne breakfast.
School Leadership: As the fourth grade team leader, Junge dives into student data to help develop strategies that best serve learners’ needs. She leads Journey’s math team, sits on the school leadership team, and serves as building assessment facilitator and NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) coordinator. Junge embraces the culture and methodology of project-based learning and shares her expertise freely with colleagues. She will drop everything to help a colleague, including adapting to shifting technology and strategies through the pandemic.
Giving Back: Community service is a priority for Junge, who comes from a family of special education teachers. She has coached athletes, coordinated events, raised money and recruited volunteers for the Special Olympics. Junge volunteers for Our Camp Inc., a summer camp for individuals with disabilities, and helps put on “Night to Shine,” a prom for special needs youth. Junge brings this passion for service to her students, organizing class volunteer activities and UNICEF fund drives.
Education: Junge earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2012 from the University of Wyoming and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2016 from Adams State University.
About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at MFF.org.