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Jan 17, 2014

With Great Honor Comes Great Responsibility

“My best advice for the newest member of our Milken Educator Network would be to use it as a launching pad to continue to grow as a professional, and to continue making a transformational difference in the lives of young people.”

Dr. Manuel Valenzuela (AZ '98), Sahuarita School District Superintendent

Dear Champions of Education,

Happy 2014! We hope you had a wonderful holiday and that your new year has started off with only pleasant surprises and renewed potential. For three new Milken Educators, 2014 will be a year of growth like no other as they are catapulted into the limelight and their careers set on a new trajectory. Of course, it won’t be all media interviews and photo-ops with governors. 

Christopher Laughland (AZ ’13)

English and AV teacher Christopher Laughland has only been teaching for six years. Yet, in that time, Chris has taken advantage of every opportunity to impact students. Whether teaching English and audio-visual courses, mentoring new teachers, or serving as the head baseball coach at Walden Grove HS, Chris motivates students and inspires colleagues with his creative use of technology and engaging activities. Chris wiped away tears of joy and was in “complete shock” when President and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Dr. Gary Stark (AR ’01) and Arizona Superintendent John Huppenthal surprised him with the award (photos). This was also a special notification for another Milken Educator, Dr. Manny Valenzuela (AZ ’98), who is now the District Superintendent of Sahuarita Schools, where Chris teaches. Manny had some great advice for Chris and all new Milken Educators (video) on how to use the Award: as a “launching pad,” and we couldn’t agree more.

Katie Sedore (VT '13)

What with her classes, in which she holds all students to the highest standards, the reading intervention program she spearheaded, and working with physical education teachers to teach sports literature, Katie Sedore has already made quite the impact on thousands of students. But as an indicator of the heights to which Katie’s career can still rise, Senior Vice President of Milken Educator Awards Dr. Jane Foley handed the microphone to Governor Peter Shumlin to announce the Language Arts teacher from Spaulding High School in Barre, VT, as the outstanding educator being recognized that day.

It seems that many Milken Educators follow a family calling when entering the profession. But this may have been the first time that an educator’s parent was also the school principal, resulting in an effective double surprise! Hear what proud father and principal Thomas Sedore (video) had to say about the Milken Family Foundation honoring his daughter and entire school.

Meghan Nese (PA ‘13)

With her high expectations, Meghan admits that she’s tough on her students (video) because she believes in their ability to rise to a challenge. Yet, this English teacher and department chair isn’t just about “words, words, words.” Besides teaching Shakespeare at Burrell High School (photos) in Lower Burrell, PA, Meghan collaborates with other departments to create projects that allow students to increase and apply their knowledge across disciplines.

Meghan has been teaching for 16 years, often putting in 60-hour work weeks. Having won the Milken Educator Award isn’t going to make it any easier on her, but it will serve as a launching pad to affect policy and reach more students. Jump to 1:23 in Meghan’s notification video to hear Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq describe the ways that Pennsylvania utilizes its Milken Educators.

Milken Family Foundation Chairman Lowell Milken often says, “with great honor, comes great responsibility.” As our new honorees discover their newfound “launching pad,” we welcome them to the ranks of nearly 2,600 Milken Educators—and thousands of other champions of education—working tirelessly in the classroom and on every level to ensure a bright future full of even brighter young minds.

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

In this newsletter:  Christopher Laughland (AZ '13)Meghan Nese (PA '13)Katie Sedore (VT '13)Dr. Manuel Valenzuela (AZ '98)
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