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Erin Hodges, a seventh-grade English teacher at Douglas MacArthur Junior High School in Jonesboro, has won the 2013 Milken Educator Award, the Arkansas Department of Education said Thursday.

Hodges, who was presented with the award during a surprise ceremony at the school, was considered for the award for incorporating “technology with project-based learning to engage students with the Common Core State Standards,” the department said. She was one of the first teachers at MacArthur Junior High to employ in her class a mobile tech lab, which included giving each student a Nook e-reader tablet as part of the curriculum.

Hodges was also chosen after her classes made double-digit gains in test scores in 2011-12 and improved their literacy proficiency scores from 58 percent in 2008 to 69 percent in 2012.

“Ms. Hodges’ dedication and passion for teaching is evident in her students’ desire to learn, as well as her collaboration and partnership with her co-workers,” Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell said in a statement. “The increase in students’ test scores reflects her knowledge, expertise and experience.”

In addition to teaching English, Hodges serves as a special education co-teacher, is a sponsor for the Out of the Dark drug abuse and addiction prevention program and is a co-cheerleading coach.

The award, founded in 1987 by the Milken Family Foundation, will be given to up to 40 educators across the country for the 2013 school year. Arkansas joined the program in 1991, and more than 70 educators have been honored since.

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