Friends of Vocational Technical & Agricultural Education,
We are excited to share wonderful news that a Chapter 74 vocational technical administrator was a recipient of a prestigious national award. Andrew D. Rebello,
Assistant Superintendent-Principal, at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River, was honored with the Milken Educator Award. He is one of only two in Massachusetts and 75 in the entire county!
MAVA extends in most sincere congratulations to Andrew and the entire Diman Regional School community,
A Vocational Technical Educator won an ‘Oscar of teaching.’ Here’s what happened.
Audrey Cooney The Herald News
FALL RIVER — The principal at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School was surprised with a major award — and $25,000 — at a special assembly on Friday morning.
“Diman today, Diman tomorrow, Diman forever,” Principal Andrew Rebello said during a speech after accepting the award.
Rebello was honored on Friday with the Milken Educator Award, a national award given to teachers and principals across the country by the Milken Family Foundation, an organization that supports education and medical research.
On Friday morning, hundreds of students and their teachers crowded into Diman’s gym for an assembly; most of them thought they were there to honor the school’s culinary program. But instead, Jeffrey C. Riley, Massachusetts Commissioner for Elementary and Secondary Education and Jane Foley, a representative for the Milken Family Foundation, were there to present the prestigious award to Rebello.
Foley, Milken Educator Awards senior vice president, called the award “the Oscars of teaching.” “This is the elite, all-star educator team,” she said of award recipients.
How many educators get the Milken Educator Award?
Around 75 educators in the U.S. will receive the award this year. Along with an expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles next summer for an award ceremony, winners receive a $25,000 prize that they’re allowed to spend on anything they choose. Past recipients have spent the prize money on initiatives like continuing their own education, financing dream field trips, and establishing scholarships.
Foley explained that the organization intentionally chooses educators who are early or mid-career, so that they can use the award to continue to grow.
Education leaders praise Diman
Riley said during the assembly that surveys show high school students in general tend to feel disengaged from their education, with one exception: students at vocational schools. These students “see connections to jobs and the real world every day," he said.
Diman in particular has made a name for itself as an excellent example of what vocational schools can accomplish, he told the gathered students.
“I hear about one technical high school every day, and I’m at it,” he said. “People are talking about you all across the state.”
Foley pointed out that the Milken Educator Award has no application or nomination process; representatives for the foundation find candidates themselves. The organization has heard about Diman’s successes, she said.
“Even in California we’ve heard great things about your school,” she said.
Rebello wins ‘Oscar of teaching’
After teasing out the amount of award money involved and an explanation from Foley, Riley announced the award to massive cheers from the waiting students. After the surprise announcement, Rebello kept most of his focus on other people at Diman.
“This is a direct reflection of our teachers and our students,” he said.
Still, he said his family background has led him up to this point. His great-grandfather was the first educator in his village in Portugal, and his parents immigrated to the U.S. without speaking any English in search of better opportunities, he said.
“That foundation and that support was incredible,” he said.
It’s still too early to say where he plans to spend the $25,000.
“I haven’t even thought about the money,” he said.
In a press release, the Milken Family Foundation praised Rebello for his leadership and efforts to increase engagement between Diman and the broader community. He came into the principal’s role in early 2020, just as schools were about to shut down because of the pandemic.
“Rebello successfully implemented schoolwide instructional practices to improve student learning with a focus on checks for understanding and critical thinking in every classroom. He also spearheaded academic and vocational acceleration programs, including targeted math intervention, high-dosage tutoring, a study hall for students needing additional support, and reinforcements after school and on Saturdays,” they wrote.
Speaking after the ceremony, Rebello called the award “vindication that we’re doing the right thing at the right time with the right people.”
Diman has worked hard to become what he described as the most high-performing high school in the area. They now have a 98% graduation rate, he pointed out, and received 800 applications for 375 seats in the next freshman class.
“The next generation workforce is right here at Diman, and we take that incredibly to heart,” he said.
Vocational students power through the same amount of learning in 90 days that traditional students learn in 180 days, spending the rest of their school time in shops, he said.
“Many would say what we have accomplished is impossible,” he said. “And we’re gonna keep it going.”
David J. Ferreira
MAVA Communications Coordinator