Montana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, Ed.M.’94, will receive the 2015 Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education and will be recognized during HGSE’s 2015 convocation ceremony on May 27.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Harvard Graduate School of Education for my contribution to ensuring tomorrow’s leaders get the best possible public education in the state of Montana,” Juneau said. “I credit my own Montana public school education for affording me the opportunity to go on to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a place that reinforced the importance of giving all kids a quality education, no matter where they’re from.”
Beginning her career teaching on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Juneau became the first Native American woman in history to win a statewide election when she was chosen as Montana’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The position has given her an opportunity to improve education and achievement throughout the state. Since she took office in 2008, Juneau has not only established new learning standards in English and math that have improved statewide test scores, but she has also fought a growing high school dropout trend through her Graduation Matters Montana initiative. Since its launch, Montana’s high school dropout rate has decreased from 5 percent in 2009 to 3.7 percent in 2014, and the graduation rate has increased from 80.7 percent in 2009 to 85.4 percent in 2014. This is the highest the graduation rate has been in Montana since the Office of Public Instruction began calculating the graduation rate in 2000.
“It is a privilege for the Alumni Council to honor Denise Juneau with this year's Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education,” said Jonathan Steele, Ed.M.’05, chair of the Alumni Council. “Her work for the State of Montana school system in the areas of increasing access, fighting for the disenfranchised, improving quality, and breaking down barriers to educational opportunity for all the students in Montana — and particularly for Native American students — embodies the far reaching impact and advancement of the field of education we are proud to recognize through this award.”
HGSE first established the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education in 1985 in order to recognize the significance of service to education by alumni. Each year, the Alumni Relations Office solicits nominations for the award from the alumni body. Candidates must be graduates of HGSE and have made a noteworthy contribution to education during their professional careers.