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Dec 17, 2012

Earning It

“You will earn that $25,000.  Amazing opportunities will come your way and you can be the voice for your students across the entire school.” — Alberta Porter (MD ’00)

One of the most common inquiries we receive here at the Milken Family Foundation is how to nominate a teacher for a Milken Educator Award. As most of you reading this know, the answer is you can’t; Milken Educators are chosen by special committees. The award, with its $25,000 prize, is given out as a gift—there is no obligation or commitment required of the recipients. They may do with it as they please and, indeed, they do. The variety of things Milken Educators have done with their cash prize—from expanding their families by adopting a child to creating scholarships to continuing their own education—is innumerable.

One of the criteria for selection is that the educator be in the early-to-mid stages of their career. That’s not to say, however, that this award isn’t earned—it just isn’t earned in the traditional work-then-pay sense. It is earned by everything that the recipient can and does do throughout the course of their careers before and after they receive the prize. Milken Educators go on to be leaders and take on new responsibilities at school, district, state, national and even international levels. Call it “paying it forward” or call it an investment in the nation’s future, based on the results it yields, we call it a prize well earned.

Lisa BellLisa Bell of Columbus, Georgia received her “advance-bonus check” from Dr. Gary Stark and the Milken Family Foundation last Tuesday. She earns her award every day in her third-grade classroom at Downtown Elementary Magnet Academy, where she focuses on “rigor, relevance and relationships” to develop the young inquisitive minds in her charge. Questions are always welcome in Lisa’s class—she even supplies her students with post-it notes to quickly be able to make comments and queries that can be explored and addressed.

Ryan WilliamsOn the same day in Kentucky, Dr. Jane Foley surprised Ryan Williams with a bit of advanced earnings of his own. A math curriculum coordinator, Ryan is no stranger to numbers and earnings. His classroom is driven by student data and he incorporates sports to get the kids excited about everything from math to reading to research. Sharing the credit with his entire school and the students, Ryan remarked that this job is a passion for him; one we’re sure he’ll continue to enjoy as he inspires students and student teachers alike.

Lauren HunterWednesday took Jane Foley to Maryland, where she bestowed the Milken Educator Award upon Lauren Hunter. Lauren is a reading specialist who really specializes in class dynamics—creating a safe environment of trust and respect in which students can learn and grow. Like Lisa Bell, Lauren earns part of her Milken Educator Award working overtime, by mentoring teachers and tutoring students after school hours. If there was any doubt in Lauren’s ability to earn this year’s $25,000 prize for years to come—which there wasn’t—she allayed those concerns when she told the Baltimore Sun that now that she’s received this award, she "strives to go higher in Hartford County.” Adding, “I do what I do just because I love the kids and I love teaching. I love being good at what I do."

Speaking of things earned, we know how hard you’ve worked all term and we’re sure you’ve all earned a very happy holiday with your families and loved ones.


Boris Kievsky
Notifications Newsletter Editor
Manager, Online Communications and Engagement

P.S. This newsletter is taking a short holiday break of its own, but we look forward to continuing to inspire and be inspired by all of you next year.

In this newsletter:  Lisa (Bell) Sitz (GA '12)Lauren Hunter (MD '12)Ryan Williams (KY '12)
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