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Jan 13, 2017

New Milken Educators in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Florida

Dear Milken Educators and Champions of Education,

Happy 2017! We started the year with a bang as we welcomed new Milken Educators in South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Florida. Read on to meet them.

Amanda Christensen (SD '16)

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"You're a product of your environment, and I really feel like because of this innovative, amazing district I've been able to grow into the person that I am," said Amanda Christensen (SD '16) when she accepted the Milken Educator Award at Longfellow Elementary School in Mitchell, South Dakota. Amanda prepares her students for tomorrow's workplace through engaging lessons that highlight communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. 

>> See Amanda Christensen's notification photos
>> Watch Amanda Christensen's surprise notification video
>> Watch 30 years of South Dakota Milken Educator highlights

Amanda Raupe (OK '16)

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Shocked and speechless: That's how first-grade teacher Amanda Raupe (OK '16) felt when we surprised her with Oklahoma's 2016-17 Milken Educator Award at Putnam City Schools' Hilldale Elementary. Amanda's young students crowded around her for a congratulatory group hug as the gymnasium erupted with cheers, screams and applause. Amanda has led huge changes in the literacy program at Hilldale, where more than half the students are English learners. In her class, students surge ahead four to eight levels on reading assessments in one year—far exceeding the expected growth rate.

>> See Amanda Raupe's notification photos
>> Watch Amanda Raupe's surprise notification video
>> Watch 30 years of Oklahoma Milken Educator highlights

Allison Ruhl (MS '16)

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First-grade teacher Allison Ruhl (MS '16) describes herself as normally very "calm, cool and collected" — but her Milken Educator Award notification at Mississippi's Madison Station Elementary School took her completely by surprise. And that's just the way we like it! Governor Phil Bryant and First Lady Deborah Bryant helped us with Allison's big announcement, and Allison got a ton of hugs from her excited students, plus a special embrace from her daughter Reese, a third-grader at the school. An early literacy specialist, Allison spent part of last summer creating a new first- and second-grade language arts curriculum that will be available to all Mississippi educators.

>> See Allison Ruhl's notification photos
>> Watch Allison Ruhl's surprise notification video
>> Watch 30 years of Mississippi Milken Educator highlights

Lukas Hefty (FL '16)

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At Florida's Jamerson Elementary, math and science magnet coordinator Lukas Hefty (FL '16) has a singular mission: to introduce young students to the exciting fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Lukas has led the evolution of the Jamerson Engineering Units, a unique, teacher-created curriculum for all grade levels. He teaches an after-school STEM lab for fourth- and fifth-grade students and has organized two schoolwide engineering fairs involving team displays, student-led activities, an all-school design challenge and evening events that drew more than 800 family and community members. And students are thriving: In 2015, 81% of fifth-grade students achieved a level 3 or higher on the science FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test), up from 48% in 2011. Welcome to the Milken Educator family, Mr. Hefty!

>> See Lukas Hefty's notification photos
>> Watch Lukas Hefty's surprise notification video
>> Watch 30 years of Florida Milken Educator highlights

In this newsletter:  Amanda Christensen (SD '16)Lukas Hefty (FL '16)Amanda Raupe (OK '16)Dr. Allison Ruhl (MS '16)
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