2018 | Schools

East Silver Spring Elementary Teacher Honored With One of 40 National Milken Educator Awards

Brian Quinn recognized at surprise Friday ceremony for work to enhance math education

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Teacher Bryan Quinn is surprised Friday to learn he has been chosen to receive a Milken Educator Award. The East Silver Spring Elementary School teacher is one of only 40 teachers nationwide to receive the annual award.


Brian Quinn doesn’t think he’s one of the best teachers in the country, but on Friday morning state and national officials assured him that he is, in fact, in the top 1 percent of educators nationwide.

Quinn, a fourth-grade math teacher at East Silver Spring Elementary School was surprised at an all-school assembly with the Milken Educator Award, a national award that recognizes the top 40 teachers in the United States for their work to enhance educational opportunities for students in innovative, unique and inclusive ways.

“There are fantastic teachers here, so many that are so amazing, so I’m really speechless,” Quinn said. “I’m stunned, truly speechless.”

Described as analytical and caring, Quinn utilizes extensive data to shape his lessons and adapt his instruction to make sure all students are reached, Milken officials said Friday. He intertwines board and computer games, sports and group work to engage students and make math seem less daunting to those who otherwise might shy away from the subject.

“A master relationship builder,” Quinn’s personality and confidence inspires students to instantly “come to life” in his classroom, Milken staff said.

Additionally, he leads weekly math intervention groups, helping about 70 percent of his students reach proficiency on math assessments.


Milken Family Foundation Vice President Jane Foley presents the Milken Educator Award to fourth-grade teacher Brian Quinn at East Silver Spring Elementary School. Credit: Caitlynn Peetz


But, possibly the most important facet of Quinn’s work is his commitment to promoting positive relationships among staff, Milken Family Foundation Vice President Jane Foley said after the ceremony.

He consistently attends training, mentors interns from nearby universities and is involved heavily in staff functions and groups.

“That’s what we’re looking for in an educator, someone whose kids are really soaring, but also someone who is lifting the entire profession by mentoring other people to be better,” Foley said.

Quinn was hand-picked as the only Maryland educator to receive this year’s Milken award, Foley said. Winners aren’t nominated and they don’t apply themselves. Rather, Milken staff work with state departments of education to identify teachers who meet their requirements, then staff members choose who they believe best promotes education.

In addition to a big surprise, Quinn received $25,000 for being selected and will travel to the Milken Educator Forum in March in New Orleans.

Quinn said he’s unsure how he’ll spend the money, but will likely save much of it and take a trip somewhere, he said.

A Montgomery County Public Schools employee being recognized as one of the best in the nation will have a lasting impact on the school district, Superintendent Jack Smith said.

Though quick to say he believes the majority of MCPS staff do an excellent job, Smith said when a colleague is recognized on such a large stage, it often prompts others to work harder, wanting to continuously raise the bar and strive for greatness.

“To be exceptional, you have to be surrounded by other exceptional people for that to persist,” Smith said. “To really put a spotlight on one of our schools and someone like Mr. Quinn is just really fantastic.”