PRC teacher receives prestigious prize

Published 12:46 pm Saturday, April 23, 2022

In a packed gymnasium of students and staff at Pearl River Central High School, lead teacher Chayna Adams received a huge surprise in the form of the Milken Educator Award and an unrestricted cash prize worth $25,000.

The Milken Educator Award was created by the Milken Family in 1987 to recognize teachers across the nation who excell. That recognition is conducted face-to-face in a public setting, not only to inspire fellow educators but also so students and the community are aware of the importance of the teaching profession and possibly consider becoming a teacher.

Adams, along with 99 percent of the PRC students and staff, were in the dark about Friday’s award ceremony. The assembly Friday morning was announced to students and staff as recognition from the Mississippi Department of Education regarding their school’s commendable algebra scores. Instead Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher and MDE Bureau Director of Education Effectiveness Dr. Courtney Van Clove organized the event to surprise Adam for her hard work as a model teacher and educator for the state and nation.

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After Gallagher announced the teacher who won, the entire gym erupted with joy and every head tuned to the back of the gym where Adams stood in total disbelief. In her emotional speech she thanked the Blue Devils family for their support as their teacher.

“We have the best students we could ever want to teach in this campus, so thank you,” said Adams.

Adams has been a teacher at PRC since 2016, she taught math until last year where she became the lead teacher.

“We have a lot of great educators here, so honestly I was like, ‘I wish they would of told me who it was so I could provide them with flowers on behalf of the high school,’ but then it turned out to be me and I was just like ‘wait what?’” said Adams.

She credits her accomplishment to an amazing mentor she had at the beginning stages of her teaching career, Tiffany Kellman.

“She helped me grow into who I am, made me evaluate my teaching styles and my curriculum, but really opened my eyes into what it is to be a teacher and develop relationships with kids, and when I came here to PRC they allowed me to be a leader and help grow other teachers,” said Adams.

Adams favorite moments as a teacher are the “aha moments” students have in class.

“A lot of kids don’t like math and I always tell them ‘I like it enough for all us,’ so whenever they’re like ‘oh wait I get this,’ and it’s not so hard and it’s not such of this hill to overcome, that’s probably my favorite part,” said Adams.

In her current job as lead teacher Adam says she loves to help teachers and staff strive to be exceptional educators and leaders.

“I have a great relationship with a lot of our students that I’ve taught or even haven’t taught that see me around campus, and I have a wonderful working relationship with every member on staff. So when you can look at a goal and decide we can do this as a team there is nothing better than that, and there’s nothing you can’t achieve,” Adams said.

With a big check coming her way Adams is still in shock of what she’ll do with the funds. She even called her husband to tell him the big news.

“I teach for a living, so money’s never really a thing right? So I really have no idea, it’s so unexpected and surprising,” Adams said.

She added that her husband is very supportive and thinks what she’s doing is great and he is very proud of her.

“But obviously what any husband would care about is the $25,000 right, that’s a big deal. But I’m sure he’s excited,” Adams said while laughing.