A Westwood school principal was chosen as one of about 40 recipients across the country for an award recognizing "exemplary educators."
The Milken Family Foundation gave Allan Cameron, a Walpole resident who is principal of Deerfield Elementary School in Westwood, a prestigious 2012 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. The foundation seeks out outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists for the unrestricted financial award of $25,000.
Cameron, who has been Deerfield's principal since 2008, was given the award Thursday morning in a ceremony he was asked to organize, thinking it was to celebrate the school's MCAS scores.
"It was a total shock," Cameron said in a phone interview after receiving the award. "I planned my own party."
A statewide panel of educators sorts through dozens of potential awardees' portfolios and then makes recommendations to the Milken Foundation. The foundation makes the final decisions based on educational accomplishments and innovation in developing curriculum and programs.
When asked what made him stand out, Cameron was quick to give credit to teachers and students for their own accomplishments.
"It's things that students and staff have done really," he said. "There's an attitude here of striving for excellence that really permeates the building."
Cameron said two achievements he has been a part of during his four years at Deerfield are the rise in MCAS scores and the organization of an annual school walk-a-thon which raises about $1,000 for local charities.
A press release from the Massachusetts Education Department said that in an anonymous survey of Deerfield School's staff members and parents, over 84 percent rated Cameron's leadership as excellent.
Cameron began his career as a classroom teacher at an elementary school in Westport, Conn. He worked at Boston College and Brookline's Lawrence School before coming to Deerfield as principal in July 2008.
He says he hopes to stay at Deerfield for many more years, and maybe someday work his way up to a superintendent spot.
"I'm using this [award] as a motivator for me, an opportunity to continue to work for my students so I can support them and so they can do their best," he said.
Cameron is the only Massachusetts educator to receive a 2012-2013 award.
The Milken Family Foundation has been distributing its educator recognition awards since 1987. Recipients can use the $25,000 award in whatever way they choose.
Emily Files can be reached at email@example.com.