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Teachers receive national recognition

Chicago special ed teacher and Homewood teacher share honors

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[OCT. 15, 2004]  CHICAGO -- A Chicago Public Schools special education teacher and a Homewood first-grade teacher were the two Illinois Milken National Educator Award recipients for 2004. Each received the award and recognition during surprise events at their respective schools on Tuesday. Charles Hall, special education teacher in Chicago, was recognized during a morning event. Nathalie Mingo, a first-grade teacher in Homewood whose father was also a past recipient, was honored during an afternoon event.

The prestigious award is given annually to teachers demonstrating exemplary teaching skills and personal commitment to education. Each winner receives $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation. Winners can use the funds for any purpose.

Hall set out to make a career in the world of communication and television production. While he achieved success in the industry, he did not find it as fulfilling as he had hoped. So, Hall made a life-changing decision to become a teacher, and for the last eight years, he's taught at the Jacob Beidler Elementary School in Chicago. Instead of teaching English or math, Hall chose to teach children with special needs, believing he could make a difference in their lives.

The influence he has had on his students was evident Tuesday morning as he found himself in a crowded school auditorium filled with students, teachers and dignitaries, including Interim State Superintendent Randy Dunn and District 299 Superintendent Arne Duncan. Lowell Milken, with the Milken Family Foundation, made an announcement that demonstrated what a difference this southwest-side teacher has made in the lives of numerous students. Milken named Hall one of two Illinois 2004 Milken National Educator Award recipients.

Hall's mentoring skills provide another avenue for him to reach out to students. He takes the time to listen to them and work with them in whatever area they need help. When asked about Hall's teaching, Beidler Principal Geraldine Moore exclaimed, "One of his students had the highest Iowa test scores in the school -- it doesn't get any better than that!"

A passion for teaching isn't perceived only by Hall's students. His colleagues describe him as a teacher who continuously sharpens his own knowledge and teaching skills, which he then shares to help other teachers. He has a flair for creating new ways to be successful. According to colleagues, his enthusiasm inspires and motivates students and teachers alike.

Hall visits students' homes and works closely with parents to encourage them help their children become successful learners. He is well-known throughout the community and coaches events for Special Olympics.

In Homewood, some may say that Nathalie Mingo's desire to teach was destined by her gene pool. Her father, Charles, was a teacher before becoming a principal, so Mingo grew up watching her dad help students become successful learners. At an early age, Mingo knew she wanted to follow his lead.

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Though she followed in her father's footsteps, Mingo could never have imagined that 11 years after her father was named a Milken National Educator, she, too, would receive the same prestigious recognition. For the Mingo family, history repeated itself Tuesday afternoon in the crowded gymnasium of Willow Elementary School in Homewood.

Mingo has been a first-grade teacher at Willow for eight years. School administrators have long noted her love of education. Her colleagues credit her with consistently sharing new strategies and creative ideas for improving teaching. They say that Mingo's success as a teacher stems from her ability to always find the positive in any situation. Other teachers look to her for guidance, and she always provides them with innovative techniques. Mingo firmly believes that through camaraderie, she will ultimately achieve her goal -- helping all students become successful learners.

"I love to visit her classroom -- I always learn something!" said Melissa Lawson, assistant principal of Willow.

Based on her own learning experiences as a child, Mingo fully understands the necessity of parental involvement in education. To that end, she makes weekly folders for her students' parents so they are always aware of what their child is studying and can help further that learning.

Mingo's boundless enthusiasm and positive attitude have earned her the respect of her colleagues, students, parents, administrators and the community. The success she has in helping children read is practically legendary around the district.

Mingo now joins 96 Illinois educators to date -- including her father, who received the award in 1993 -- to be nationally recognized by the Milken Family Foundation.

This year, 100 teachers in 47 states and the District of Columbia will receive Milken awards. To date, the Milken Family Foundation has honored 2,077 teachers and principals, distributing more than $51 million in awards.

[Illinois State Board of Education news release]

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