December 9, 2014 | Number of The Day
Elizabeth science teacher wins national award and stipend for instilling love of astronomy

Elizabeth elementary school science teacher Tracy Espiritu is one of 40 nationally recognized recipients of the 2014 Milken Educator award, which comes with a $25,000 prize.

Espiritu is a former product engineer who now who teaches at School 29 Dr. Albert Einstein Academy. She has introduced astronomy to hundreds of Elizabeth’s students and families through family astronomy nights and stargazing. And she’s also been recognized due to her contributions to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering Architecture and Math) curriculum in the city.

Espiritu was instrumental in getting the Einstein Academy, a magnet school, named a NASA Explorer School. She’s also enhanced STEAM instruction through partnerships with the College of New Jersey, the Greater Newark Conservancy, Kean University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and NASA.

Surmounting economic and other challenges, more than 80 percent of Einstein’s students have scored proficient or advanced proficient in math over the past four years, in part due to Espiritu’s efforts in her classes and throughout the school, according to the state Department of Education.

Espiritu was surprised by the the award announcement at a school assembly attended by acting Education Commissioner David Hespe and NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie. A full list of this year’s recipients is available online.