Steere Farm teacher named among ‘nation’s best,’ awarded $25,000

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green, left speaks with award recipient Nancie Lawrence just after the surprise announcement.

BURRILLVILLE – A teacher at Steere Farm Elementary School received a surprise check for $25,000 Tuesday morning in recognition of her dedication and outstanding work as an educator, including the ability to create a warm, welcoming environment for students.

Reading Specialist Nancie Lawrence was given the Milken Educator Award during a celebration at the school attended by local and state dignitaries, as well as other Rhode Island educators who have received the prestigious recognition in the past.

Lawrence, a former third grade teacher at the Pascoag school, “challenges her students to think deeply and work hard for results,” according to a release on the award from Milken, a national network of elite educators.

The teacher earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education in 2006 and a master’s in education in reading in 2012 from Rhode Island College. She received National Board Certification in elementary literacy in 2013.

The organization noted that Lawrence’s classroom, “is a safe space where every child is treated with dignity and respect,” and that she has served as a mentor for other teachers, working with her peers tp facilitate professional development.

Lawrence with Gov. Dan McKee.

Students who have worked with Lawrence showed an overall ELA proficiency rate of 53 percent on state exams in 2019, compared with 33 percent for the state and 30 percent for the Burrillville district.

The group also recognized her ability to build strong parent/teacher relationships.

The unrestricted cash prize also links Lawrence with a group of some 2,800 Milken Educators and education leaders across the U.S. She is one of only two recipients in Rhode Island during the 2021-2022 school year.

The surprise came amid celebration of Steere Farm’s recognition as a nationally certified “Kindness School. Wearing t-shirts declaring it, “cool to be kind,” the student body danced and cheered as teachers and dignitaries pointed to efforts to show kindness and inclusion with their peers with initiatives such as the “Buddy Bench,” and the “Kindness Cup.”

View NRI NOW’s video from the celebration here.

Infante-Green, left, and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Jane Foley, right, celebrate with Lawrence.

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