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Oct 27, 2014

Is It Who or What You Know?

LeeAnna Rabine (SD ’14) accepts her Milken Educator Award surrounded by her new network: VIPs representing every level of South Dakota education, including many veteran Milken Educators.

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

There is a popular question when it comes to success: is it what you know or who you know? Is it more important to be smart or to be connected? The answer, at least for us at the Milken Educator Awards, is both. First, of course, you have to know a lot—including that you can never know enough. You have to always be striving to be more effective, try new techniques, reach more students and impact more lives. Second, you have to know other leaders in your field. These are the people in your network that can help you be your best and with whom you can share strategies to raise the educational tide that lifts all (educational) boats. The Milken Family Foundation finds smart, impassioned educators and brings them into a network of like-minded and student-success-oriented individuals around the country, each one an expert and a resource for the others. We recently added three new Milken Educators to our network of resources. We think you’ll want to know them, too.

Jessica Karll (MO '14)

Jessica Karll knew that she wanted to be a teacher ever since she was inspired by her own teacher at the age of six. Now, her third-grade students at Discovery Ridge Elementary in O’Fallon, Missouri, reap the rewards of her dream (photos). Jessica uses a combination of approaches to provide an environment where students can reach their full potential— from nourishment to helping them with homework to character-building through civic engagement. Dr. Jane Foley (IN ’94) welcomed Jessica into the network (video) with some assistance from Missouri Deputy Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven, Wentzville School District Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain and veteran Milken Educators.

Angie Sigmon (NC '14)

The following day, Jane and the Milken Educator Awards crew added a network resource in Conover, North Carolina. Angie Sigmon knows that—with proper support—students can rise to the expectations set for them. That’s why she has each of her first-graders at Shuford Elementary School sign a mission statement at the beginning of every year. Angie was welcomed with cheers and well-wishes from Milken Educators (photos), North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. June Atkinson and others who were only too “Happy” to sing along to the Newton-Conover High School choir’s performance of the hit song by Pharrell Williams. Angie accepted the award with great emotion (video).

LeeAnna Rabine (SD '14)

LeeAnna Rabine may not have known a lot of people in the South Dakota education system before finding out that she was the teacher being honored by the Milken Educator Awards last Friday, but she certainly does now. Everyone from district board members to Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp was on hand to honor LeeAnna for her outstanding work at Hawthorne Elementary School in Sioux Falls. Even the Sioux Falls police chief joined the throng of well-wishers (photos). What LeeAnna did know—and is happy to now share with her new network of Milken Educators and officials—is how to foster a positive, nurturing environment in her kindergarten classroom, where students feel safe to thrive. See LeeAnna’s emotional response as the entire audience erupts in applause (video) when Dr. Jane Foley announces her as the 2014–15 Milken Educator for South Dakota.

We look forward to learning more from our three new educators and sharing their insights. Our mission is to serve as an inspiration and resource for all educators who want to raise the bar. That’s why we share these inspiring stories with the world and offer access to these outstanding educators through our website. And it’s why we bring you articles with practical tools that you can apply to your own professional development (including one coming next week).

Whether or not you are a Milken Educator, we encourage you to get know more about and from our honorees. And when someone asks you if you achieved your success through who you know or what you know, you can tell them that like all true success, it comes from both.


Boris Kievsky
Newsletter Editor and Social Media Sharer of Exciting Discoveries
Manager of Online Communications and Engagement

In this newsletter:  Dr. Jessica Karll (MO '14)LeeAnna Rabine (SD '14)Angie Sigmon (NC '14)
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