"Just over 10 years ago, you began awarding the Milken Educator Award in South Dakota. In my mind, I can still see the article and photo in the newspaper about Karen Lukens, the recipient from my school district. When Karen won her award, I thought, 'Wow. That's something I would love to achieve.'
"I have not worked hard in this, my life's calling, to win awards. But awards do inspire people. Even more than becoming a Milken Educator, I have wanted to be a teacher like Karen Lukens. I have wanted to provide students with the skills they need to even have their dreams available to them. I have wanted to share books that inspire students to know themselves and others better so they might have more compassion and give more grace. I have wanted to create a sense of community in this big school that would mirror the small, rural school where I grew up. I saw that those desires were part of Karen's mission, and I was inspired to be the very best teacher I could be for my students and for my community....I am proof that the Milken [Award] not only recognizes teachers but inspires them."