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Apr 14, 2015

The Enduring Impact of Educators

Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken (left) and VIPs help new Milken Educator Brandon Sportel (center) display his $25,000 check from the Milken Family Foundation.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”Henry Adams

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

"Who was your favorite teacher?" is a common question for a reason. Students remember great teachers who have the ability to show them what they’re capable of, both in and out of the classroom.

The impact of an educator who can help open an otherwise closed door can be felt throughout someone's life. Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken recalls his own 5th-grade teacher, Mr. Fosse, as someone who instilled leadership qualities and values that have helped shape his career path to this day.

As the 2014-15 year’s Milken Educator Award season comes to a close and we reflect on the outstanding educators honored this year, we’re reminded of how important Lowell’s mission is to publicly recognize these heroes of the classroom. The Milken Educators highlighted below are remarkable examples of the many ways influential teachers and education professionals can guide students to lasting success.

ShaliniShalini Sharma (AZ '14) — Fifth-grade teacher at Friendly House Academia del Pueblo Elementary Charter School in Phoenix, Arizona

Fun fact about Shalini: She loves a challenge. After volunteering to take over the fifth-grade class at her school, which was struggling to make academic gains, the students’ scores in reading and math shot up significantly thanks to Shalini’s teaching strategies. Learn more about Shalini and see photos from her award assembly.

Don't miss: A visibly stunned Shalini makes her way to the front of the gymnasium when she hears Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken announce her name as the next Milken Educator for the state of Arizona! "Humans are capable of doing anything—and that's what I believe in for my students,” she says. Watch the video >>

AnaAna Gutierrez (AZ ’14) — TAP Master Teacher, Longview Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona

Fun fact about Ana: Her work with TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement has led to accomplishments outside of the school, too. Ana recently went to Capitol Hill, where she presented on comprehensive educator effectiveness models. Learn more about Ana and see photos from her award assembly.

Don’t miss: An emotional Ana embraces Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken in a show of gratitude. "The world is in your hands. You get to decide what you will be and what you will become,” she tells her students.  Watch the video >>

BrandonBrandon Sportel (CA ’14) — Special education teacher, Canalino Elementary School in Carpinteria, California

Fun fact about Brandon: Every student in his classroom has a physical, mental and/or behavioral disability, but Brandon is recognized for his expertise on strategies for special and regular education students. He is often asked to consult on cases at other schools. Learn more about Brandon and see photos from his award assembly.

Don’t miss: Brandon’s stirring and heartfelt speech as he thanks the entire school, dignitaries and Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken for this incredible honor.  “Our teachers here at Canalino are the most loving, caring and always put the students first,” he says. Watch the video >>

NPACArticle: Program Paves Path to College for At-Risk Students

Robin Kitsu, a 2001 Milken Educator Award winner from Hawaii, has created a life-changing performing arts program for students – many of whom have faced roadblocks like poverty and substance abuse.

An astonishing 90 percent of students who participate in NPAC graduate from high school and go on to higher education. “You can have two left feet or be tone deaf, it doesn’t matter,” says Robin. “Creating this accepting culture allows students to try new things and make mistakes and grow.” Read the full story here >>

Educators, we look forward to continuing to support your efforts, hard work and passion for the improvement of student growth and the enhancement of the teaching profession. Continue to do great things!


Rebekah Schilperoort

Web Writer & Content Manager, Milken Family Foundation

SHARE YOUR IDEAS: Please reach out to me with suggestions on topics you would like to see covered in this newsletter:, 310-570-4771.

In this newsletter:  Ana Gutierrez (AZ '14)Shalini Sharma (AZ '14)Brandon Sportel (CA '14)
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