English 10 at Lake Stevens High School. Daniel Alderson (’04) is teaching. On the right side of the classroom, students are sitting quietly, writing their compare-and-contrast essays. In the back, others are in a lively discussion, trying to determine the author’s purpose. In the front, they’re sketching a graphic organizer to understand the structure of the introduction. Alderson flits between the three groups, listening and offering suggestions.
“It’s a classroom management nightmare, but when it’s rocking, it’s really rocking. I try to meet students where they are,” said Alderson, who lives and works near Everett, Wash. “When students get the piece that they need from a teacher, they get more done.”
His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Last October, he received the prestigious Milken Award for excellence in teaching. With the award comes $25,000. When his name was called at a school assembly, Alderson – a self-proclaimed chatterbox any other time – was speechless. “I’m a teacher, I talk, that’s what we do,” he said. “But all I could say was ‘thank you.’ I’m even speechless now.”
-Lauren Campbell (’13)