Newsletter   All Newsletters

Dec 17, 2013

Another Season, Another Four Reasons

“Excellent teachers helped prepare me to take advantage of life’s opportunities… good teachers really do make a difference.” — Lowell Milken, Chairman, Milken Family Foundation

Dear Champions of Education,

Year ends are often a time for reflection—for milestones and un-checked to-do items alike. It’s also the holiday season, a time for family and celebration. For four new Milken Educators, there is a new milestone to celebrate and a new family to welcome them with open arms. For the Milken Family Foundation, they are another four reasons for us—and the nation—to celebrate what great educators are accomplishing and the bright futures they are forging for students.

Christal Bookhamer (TX ’13)

Christal Bookamer"I think my heart was going to jump out of my chest as I heard my name called out," says Christal Bookhamer in her video. On Thursday, December 5, Lowell Milken brought the Milken spirit to the holidays of Loflin Middle School in Joshua, TX. That is the school where eighth-grade science teacher Christal Bookhamer has been known to wear military fatigues and march around the lunchroom singing in cadence to get kids excited about her Science Bootcamp. Watch the video of her surprise to hear what she and Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams believe the Milken Educator Awards is about, then browse the photos to get even more of the story.

Thursday, December 12, 2013 may have just become a new holiday in the South Carolina Department of Education. On that day, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais and National Institute for Excellence in Teaching CEO Dr. Gary Stark brightened the holidays of not one, but two outstanding South Carolina educators.

Kristi Grooms (SC ‘13)

Kristi GroomsFirst up was Kristi Grooms, an eighth-grade reading, English and Language Arts teacher at Dutch Fork Middle School in Irmo, SC. Kristi likes to get creative with her class, even getting them to create soundtracks of their lives that express who they are.  Yet, when it came to accepting this honor, Kristi couldn’t find the words to adequately express her feelings, telling the media, “As an English teacher, I make my living with words and I don’t even have any for this. I just don’t.” Speaking of celebrating and family, watch Kristi’s emotion-packed video in which she shares the surprise holiday joy with her mom; and hear from her students why they think she deserves this award.

Mike Sinclair (SC ’13)

Mike SinclairNext, Gary Stark, Mick Zais and some of the Milken Educators who were at Kristi’s notification traveled to Simpsonville, SC to let Principal Mike Sinclair of Brashier Middle College Charter High School in on the secret reason for the assembly he’d been planning. Mike already had much to celebrate. He has been leading Brashier Middle College Charter since its beginning, growing it from 100 students to over 400 today, with a staggering 98.9% college matriculation rate. Mike shared the award with his Brashier family, telling the assembly (video), “I accept this honor with pride, but I accept it because of what my students and teachers do.” Then he shared the news with his wife—also an educator—making her holiday brighter with a possible vacation in their near future paid for out of the $25,000 prize.

Katie Graupman (ID ’13)

Katie GraupmanOn Friday, Senior Vice President of Milken Educator Awards Dr. Jane Foley traveled to a snow-covered Spirit Lake, Idaho, where she was met by State Superintendent of Education Tom Luna at Timberlake High School. Together, they gave one more educator a cause for joy before the winter break. At Timberlake High School, they surprised reading, English, Language Arts and journalism teacher Katie Graupman. Katie was shocked to hear her name announced as the Award recipient, but recovered to give a heart-warming acceptance speech (video), dedicating the Award to her students.

Thus we draw the 2013 year to a close at the Milken Family Foundation with four new reasons and four new family members to celebrate. We’ll be back in January with more notifications around the country. Until then, we hope that you and your families have a wonderful holiday season.

Boris Kievsky
Newsletter Editor
Manager, Online Communications and Engagement
Milken Family Foundation

In this newsletter:  Christal Bookhamer (TX '13)Katie Graupman (ID '13)Kristi Grooms (SC '13)Mike Sinclair (SC '13)
Don’t miss any exciting Milken Educator Awards updates, Subscribe Now