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Dec 15, 2014

Happier Holidays with Five New Milken Educators

STEAM teacher Tracy Espiritu (NJ ’14) (third from left) is welcomed to the Milken Educator Family by Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken, NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie and five veteran Milken Educators.

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

2014 is rapidly drawing to a close, just as the 2014–15 Milken Educator Awards is picking up steam (and a STEAM educator). Since October this year, we have honored 18 outstanding educators, sharing their stories with you and with the world. Before we break for the holidays, we thought we’d share a little about our five newest Milken Educators, recognized over the last two weeks. Besides having the common traits of passion and perseverance that make them Milken Educators, each is amazing in his or her own way. Here are just some highlights:

Jessica Tsoufiou (OH ’14): Fourth-grade teacher at Frazer Elementary in Canton, Ohio

One fact about Jessica: She has been awarded several Arts in Stark grants to bring artists into her classroom so students can engage in foundational math and science concepts through art experiences.

Don’t miss: Jessica thanks the “village” (video) that it takes to educate the children at Frazer.

Michael Baum (PA ’14): Second-grade teacher at Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

One fact about Michael: He collaborates with other faculty, such as ESL and intervention specialists, to insure that his lessons meet students’ language needs and support the curriculum of other subjects. He’s also the basketball coach.

Don’t miss: Michael tells us why he has “the best job in the world” (video).

Dr. Ernie Adkins (WV ’14): Principal at Princeton Primary School in Princeton, West Virginia

One fun fact about Ernie: He became a licensed water treatment operator just to get his school’s well system approved. Ernie’s willingness to take on any challenge for his school and his students has led many to credit him with keeping them from dropping out.

Don’t miss: State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano beams with pride at what Ernie has done (video) and what he’ll now be asked to help with throughout West Virginia.

Tracy Espiritu (NJ ’14): STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture, Math) teacher at Dr. Albert Einstein Academy #29, Elizabeth, New Jersey

One fun fact about Tracy: Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken and NJ First Lady Mary Pat Christie not only validated her transition from an engineer to outstanding STEAM teacher, they did it on her birthday!

Don’t miss: Students singing their school STEAM song, Mike Milken asking what excellence is, Tracy quoting Oprah Winfrey, and Baruti Kafele (NJ ’09) and Mary Pat Christie explaining what it means to win a Milken Educator Award, all in the extended video.

Julie Cleave (OR ’14): First-grade teacher at Hallman Elementary School in Salem, Oregon

One fun fact about Julie: Julie literally goes the extra mile for her students, organizing and running a 5K with the Girls on the Run group she created to help them build self-esteem and commitment to exercise.

Don’t miss: Students jumping up to hug Julie in one of the most emotional and heartwarming reactions of the season (video).

Take a moment and get to know each of them through their profiles, photo galleries and moving videos, then—as many already have—reach out via their profile pages or share comments on their photos and videos. Ask what works for their schools and classrooms or just help us welcome them.

We have many more amazing stories we can’t wait to share in 2015, of teachers and principals who overcome any obstacle to connect with students and give them the best chance at a bright future. Until then, we wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday!


Boris Kievsky
Newsletter Editor and Wisher of Happy Holidays

PS – We’re now on Instagram!

In this newsletter:  Dr. Ernie Adkins (WV '14)Michael Baum (PA '14)Julie Wojcicki-Cleave (OR '14)Tracy Espiritu (NJ '14)Jessica Tsoufiou (OH '14)
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