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May 05, 2015

To Teach or Not to Teach?

New Milken Educator Brandon Sportel plays guitar and directs his students as they sing the Canalino Elementary School song. Brandon, a special education teacher, was the final outstanding educator honored by the Milken Educator Awards for the 2014-15 season.

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

You may have faced this question at some point in your career: to teach or not to teach? It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and especially today—National Teacher Appreciation Day—we thank and honor you for choosing this challenging, yet richly rewarding, profession above all others.

At a time when teacher shortages are making headlines across the country, we need effective educators like yourselves to set an example for our students and motivate them to enter the profession. Without great teachers creating the next generation of great teachers, our country falters.

That’s why the Milken Family Foundation—through the Milken Educator Awards—is dedicated to focusing public attention on the importance of excellent educators and rewarding them for their remarkable work. The awards are about bringing wide-spread recognition to these classroom heroes, serving at once as validation, motivation and inspiration to current and future quality educators.

Today, we hope the following stories will remind you why you chose to become a teacher and of the true power in what you do.

CagneyWhat I Wish My Students Knew

Last month, a story about a third-grade teacher who shared her student’s heartfelt responses to the phrase “I wish my teacher knew…” sparked a nerve with teachers and parents across the country and quickly went viral on social media. We decided to see what teachers would say if the question was reversed: What would the replies look like if educators answered “I wish my students knew?”

Milken Educators from all over the nation weighed in with their thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and email. Read the FULL STORY for their touching responses and keep the conversation going on Facebook and Twitter. (Be sure to tag @Milken and follow us if you haven’t already).

DesiMeet This Year’s Outstanding Milken Educators!

We are immensely proud to welcome 37 of the best, brightest and most effective teachers in the country to the Milken Educator Award family.  Their dedication and unwavering commitment to helping students succeed is not only inspiring but vital to our nation's future.

From a “data geek” who helps her students soar through personalized instruction, to a passionate educator who’s actively investing in the future of today's youth, there’s no shortage of impressive academic results from those who #TeachForTheStars! Check out the FULL GALLERY to see photos and videos.

CarmanState Recognition Events

State and local education officials gathered to celebrate their Milken Educator Award winners and present them with their official Milken Educator Award Obelisk. View the FULL GALLERY and see who came out to honor this year's exceptional educators!

As teachers, parents and students across the country celebrate your profession, we hope that sentiment of gratitude stays with you beyond a designated day or week. Because all of the educators highlighted in this newsletter, and all of the teaching professionals reading it now, have an incredible super power. You have the power to influence what path a young person will take and make lasting contributions on their lives.

What could be more important?


Rebekah Schilperoort

Web Writer & Content Manager, Milken Family Foundation

PLEASE GET INVOLVED AND SHARE YOUR IDEAS: Reach out to me with suggestions on topics you’d like to see covered in this newsletter or in our features section, Connections:, 310-570-4771.

In this newsletter:  Carman McBride (AR '14)Desi Nesmith (CT '14)Brandon Sportel (CA '14)Cagney Weaver (MS '14)
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