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Feb 17, 2015

Your Voices, Amplified

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

As we welcome a new set of inspiring and deserving teachers to the Milken Educator family, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on how Educators are using their voices to effect positive change in education policies.

Your ideas and insights help to spark and shape important public discussions that could improve schools, student learning and the teaching profession.  Being a Milken Educator comes with the opportunity to amplify your voice on a much larger scale.

As veteran Educator Rachel Willis (GA '10) articulated in this Connections article:

"Winning the Milken Award showed me that I had a chance to impact the lives of students and teachers I'd never met. As a Milken Educator, you must remember that your voice carries weight and everyone is listening to your ideas. While it would be easy to accept the recognition and carry on with life as usual, I feel that by receiving this honor, we are being called to enter the world of public policy and help shape the future of education.”

Here’s a look at some recent voices in the news:

Lowell Milken and Three Milken Educators Tout Award’s Impact

Lowell Milken Bloomberg

Earlier this month, Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken was featured on Bloomberg EDU – a podcast dedicated to covering education in America. With host Jane Stoddard Williams, he talked about the importance of recognizing effective teachers and the goals of the award program.

“The goal is to significantly acknowledge the work and talent of individual educators,” he said in the interview with Williams. “And in that mode to try to elevate the profession, and importantly to try to encourage talented young people to possibly consider a career in education.”

Three veteran Educators, Wade Whitehead (VA '00), Dr. Cindy Moss (NC '01) and Nader Imad Twal (CA '03), were also featured on the broadcast and each spoke about how the honor has influenced their careers.

“It definitely had a profound effect on me,” said Moss, who is now the director of global STEM initiatives for Discovery Education in Silver Spring, Maryland. “It all comes back to the Milken Award.

“Once you’re a Milken Educator, people pay attention to what you have to say,” she said.

“It completely changed the way I understood the possibilities for the impact that a classroom teacher could have,” said Twal. He has gone on to lead innovation in one of the nation’s largest districts, Long Beach Unified.

The Award’s focus on teacher excellence resonates with Whitehead, who said that despite the many changes in education, “what hasn’t changed is that the number one school-controlled variable in how much kids learn is teacher quality.”

Read the full story and listen to the podcast >>

It’s Time to Get Serious About Keeping Effective Teachers

Nate Bowling

In a piece that originally appeared in The Seattle Times, Educator Nathan Gibbs-Bowling (WA '13) stressed the need to create strategies that will attract and retain the best teachers, something he says some public school systems are “ill-prepared” for.

“We have a looming teacher-retention crisis in Washington state and the most likely teachers to leave the career are often among our best, most impactful,” he wrote.

“More than a decade’s worth of research has shown that the most important in-school factor for a student’s academic achievement is his or her teacher,” said Gibbs-Bowling. “Therefore, it stands to reason that the most important thing we can do for our students is to focus intensely on attracting, developing, training and retaining the best possible teachers for our students.”

[Lowell Milken was a pioneer in this research, which was a catalyst to the Milken Educator Awards, TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement and other teacher-centric initiatives.]

Gibbs-Bowling co-founded Teachers United, a network of Washington state teachers who believe that every student deserves an excellent teacher. With support from teachers, parents, students, community members and foundations, the group researches issues and brings education to the fore with community leaders and legislators.

Teachers United recently released a report detailing strategies for changes in Washington state’s current policy to address the issue of high-quality teacher retention.

Read the full story >>

One of our goals is to help amplify the voices of Educators on our site. Let us know what you’re doing to improve education in your school or state. It could be a blog post, a guest column or op-ed, or even a project you’re working on.

We look forward to hearing about all of the great things you are accomplishing!


Rebekah Schilperoort

Web Writer & Content Manager, Milken Family Foundation

About Rebekah Schilperoort: I am honored to join the Milken Family Foundation as the new Web Writer & Content Manager. I recently moved to Los Angeles from Seattle, where I previously wrote for a newspaper covering education (among many other topics) and most recently for MSN. Please feel free to reach out to me with suggestions on how to make this newsletter fun and informative. I can be reached at or 310-570-4771.


In this newsletter:  Nathan Gibbs-Bowling (WA '13)Dr. Cindy Moss (NC '01)Dr. Nader Imad Twal (CA '03)Wade Whitehead (VA '00)Rachel Willis (GA '10)
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