Education Matters: Unsung heroes of the classroom

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Our classrooms are full of unsung heroes: teachers doing the hard work of educating our children. To recognize their hard work, the Milken Foundation is awarding promising teachers to promote quality educators.

When you walk into Katie McQuone Botello’s video production class at Fresno Unified’s Sunnyside High School, you can’t help but notice all the equipment.

But she says her job is connecting with these students.

“We are in charge of keeping them at school, getting them excited about something that is going to make them want to come here and so making this a safe space for them, a fun space for them.”

McQuone Botello, a graduate of Sunnyside High, never thought she would end up teaching here. She wanted to work with elementary school kids.

“After student teaching, I decided second grade is where I love the kids most.”

One of her former high school teachers knew she had a degree in radio, television and electronic media, and approached her about taking over the video production program at Sunnyside High.

“They called me a few times and said don’t take it if you’re just seeing it as a job, take it because you want to do it.”

She took on the challenge and never looked back. She not only taught her students skills for a career but was there for them on a personal level too.

“When they come in here crying and they leave smiling or they say they have the worst day ever but their day was better because they got to be in this class.”

McQuone Botello’s work in the classroom and community earned her the prestigious Milken Educator Award. It came as a total surprise.

“And when they called my name I couldn’t believe it.”

But Superintendent Bob Nelson says teachers like 32-year-old Katie McQuone Botello, who shows so much promise, are what the award is about.

“One of the things they are looking for is somebody who is really making a positive impact directly on the lives on the people they serve,” said Nelson. “Ms. McQuone is a resident of southeast Fresno and a Wildcat graduate. She is a proud alumni of Sunnyside and I think she wants to pay it back to her community and all those kids in southeast Fresno.”

The award comes with a $25,000 gift, but this young teacher says she’s getting so much more from being in the classroom.

“The award is everything else that comes with it and that’s the same with teaching,” said McQuone Botello. “It’s not about how they know how to do the video, it’s they are getting jobs, they are excited to come to school and they are coming here and it’s a place they want to be.”

The Milken Educator Award is a way to show a promising teacher that their hard work in the classroom is noticed.

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