Dual Language SchoolsA Chat with Milken Family Award Recipient- Dual Language Teacher of the Month Chris Bessonette!


Photo for Article: A Chat with Milken Family Award Recipient- Dual Language Teacher of the Month Chris Bessonette!

Photo Credit: The Milken Family Foundation

One dual language teacher was in for a big surprise during a surprise assembly at the Munger Mountain Elementary School in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As the kids milled about in anticipation, Chris Bessonette was awarded The Milken Educator Award, a highly prestigious award that honors phenomenal teachers, including a cash prize of $25,000. We featured Mr. Bessonette back in June of 2017, for his amazing teaching ability, dedication to dual language education, and the skills he brought to the classroom from his IB training.

Chris should be recognized for his incredible commitment to strengthening bilingualism and multicultural appreciation not only in his school, but in our district and our community. In his classroom, Chris is tireless in his quest to support his students' biliteracy and bilingual development. He works to provide culturally relevant, sheltered instruction for all students, but especially for his English Language Learners. All students feel honored and valued in his classroom. A trained International baccalaureate teacher, Chris brings the strategies he learned from his IB school into his classroom and our school. - Heather Goodrich, Dual Language Instructional Coach

Chris's desired career path has always been in education, although his journey has taken some twists and turns. Immediately after college graduation, he moved to Austria where he was a residence counselor at an international boarding school. While he explored Europe, he missed the wilderness of the American west, so he returned to Oregon and worked as an environmental educator and substitute teacher. Wanting a more full-time job outside, he moved to Yosemite National Park where he taught student groups natural history, ecology and how to appreciate our national wonders.

During these summers, he also led backpacking and rock-climbing trips with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). After getting married, he was ready for a classroom and ventured to Germany where he taught first grade at Dresden International School. He returned to the US when he began his teaching career at Munger Mountain Elementary in Jackson, Wyoming.

Now as a dual immersion teacher I have an inspiring and diverse classroom in a beautiful natural setting. Initially, I was drawn to dual immersion education because I enjoy team teaching. As I grew to understand the equity issues for Spanish speaking language learners, I grew to see the power that dual programs embody for social change. This is the most inspiring element of dual language education for me today. - Chris Bessonette

Although Chris had already achieved so much in his career, the milestone of the Milken Award is a lifetime achievement goal many teachers aspire to in their careers. The Milken Educator Award is awarded to the most inspiring, outstanding, and influential teachers by the Milken Family Foundation. For 30 years, they have been honoring teachers around the country with a $25,000$ award for their excellence, and how they may continue to succeed in the future.

Chris received this award in a surprise assembly, in front of his wonderful second grade class. Receiving this award is an emotional experience for many teachers, as it works to honor the hard work of teachers around the country that often goes unnoticed.

Receiving this award was the biggest surprise of my life! It's like winning the lottery, only you never knew you were entered! I am humbled, honored and excited to share my experiences as a dual language educator if they arise as a result of this recognition. - Chris Bessonette

Continue reading to learn more about Milken Award recipient Chris Bessonette…