Not long into the morning at Oxon Hill Middle School, Angela Malone joined her colleagues and students at a crowded school assembly. Suddenly, the teacher’s name rang through the school’s gymnasium, followed by spirited applause.
Malone was stunned as she became the recipient of a 2015-2016 Milken Educator Award, an honor that comes with a $25,000 check.
“My mind was reeling that all of this was really happening,” she recalled afterward. “I was flabbergasted.”
Her recognition on Wednesday was cheered by district leaders in Prince George’s County as well as state officials. Malone, 38, is Maryland’s only Milken honoree this school year; a District principal won the award in October.
“I feel so blessed to be part of this family,” Malone told those gathered at the school’s assembly. She went on to confide that she couldn’t wait to share the news with her mother, Ernestine Johnson, who has been a middle school science teacher in Texas for 43 years.
“It’s because of her, really, that I’m here,” she said.
Malone, head of her school’s science department, is in her 14th year of teaching and is described as being masterful at melding the arts into her science classes. She teaches seventh- and eighth-grade honors science and is a lead arts-integration teacher at the school.
“I believe very strongly that weaving the arts into content is the natural way we are meant to learn,” she said in an interview.
Jane Foley, senior vice president for the Milken Educator Awards, noted that Malone is a trained singer and actor, which has helped her school transition from a focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — to STEAM, which adds the arts.
At the start of her teaching career, Malone also performed in the opera for two seasons in Shreveport, La.
“I anticipate a wonderful future for this charismatic educator,” Foley said in a statement.
Malone, who grew up in Texas, says she once dreamed of being a doctor but started teaching in 2001 and never looked back. “I love it,” she said. “Every day is different. I love the students. I learn from their questions.”
At Oxon Hill Middle, she said that Principal Wendell Coleman has embraced arts integration, which has been an increasing focus in county schools. “It’s incredibly motivating, because I know I can come up with these crazy ideas about how to integrate the arts and he’s going to be 100 percent in favor of it,” she said.
Officials with the Milken Awards credited Malone with bringing project-based learning into her classroom, noting a project she led to make homemade ice cream as students learned about chemical and physical changes in matter.
They also said that Malone guides students as they take ownership of their learning and that she sets high expectations while providing checkpoints to ensure that students reach their goals.
Last March, she helped host a Pi Day weekend for more than 200 students and members of the community.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) congratulated Malone in a statement: “Maryland schools achieve great things due in large part to educators like Ms. Malone — a dedicated and innovative teacher who is committed to learning and the success of her students.”
Malone is among about three dozen educators nationwide expected to receive the national honor, which has been awarded since 1987 and goes to early- and mid-career educators who have had an impact on their schools and communities. She lives at Joint Base Andrews with her husband, Robert, a staff sergeant in the Air Force.