At the time of the Milken Educator Award in 2004, Elie Gaines was a 2nd Grade teacher at Pinnacle Peak Elementary School in Scottsdale, part of the Paradise Valley Unified School District. Prior to receiving the award, Elie had taught in grades K-2 at Grayhawk Elementary School and kindergarten at Cactus View Elementary School in the Paradise Valley District, and PS-2 Science and Computer Technology at The Pembroke Hill School. Gaines'innovations included hands-on learning, such as the project during which students created a life-sized replica of the digestive system, into which Gaines placed a piece of food to demonstrate how the system works. Her students also wrote and mailed letters to themselves, and tracked them through the Arizona Postal Service's re-enactment of the Pony Express during their study of westward expansion. Gaines also engaged students in a Reader's Theater, enriching the teaching of reading through drama. A national Core Knowledge® consultant and advocate, Gaines introduced the concept of content-rich curriculum to the district before the idea took hold in the state. She served on the School Council, Management Team and PTO, and was the performance-based pay coordinator. In 2006, Gaines completed the Paradise Valley Unified School District's Administrative Internship and Management Training Program. In 2007 she received administrative certification for principal, and has served on the state superintendent's Teacher and Principal's Advisory Committees and the National Council on Teacher Quality.
Elie Gaines has served in the field of education for almost 30 years years. She received a B.A. in Early Childhood and Special Education, an M.Ed. from Northern Arizona University and an M.A. in Elementary Education Math and Science from University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is the owner and lead Pre-School - Grade 12 school search consultant in her business, All Schools Considered. Prior to this position, Elie worked under a grant by the Challenge Foundation Academies. Here she wrote a school charter, provided administrative oversight for a school in transition, and vetted schools interested in joining the TeamCFA network. Ms Gaines served three years as a PS-6th grade elementary school Principal. She took the school through the first year of Core Knowledge implementation. They subsequently were recognized as Excelling and ranked an "A" school under AZLearns. Under Gaines' leadership they were recognized as an A+ school by the Arizona Education Foundation. She taught in Core Knowledge classrooms for 12 years, served as a Core Knowledge Coordinator, and has been a National Consultant for the Core Knowledge Foundation since 2001. She serves on various local, state, and national boards and committees in support of PS-20 education and education reform. Elie initiated and was a co-founder of both the Arizona Milken Network and Arizona Core Knowledge Network. Elie is most proud to be a mom, with two grown children, and of her career recognition as a 2004 Milken Educator Award recipient.