Press Releases All Press Releases
$25,000 Milken Educator Award Launches Fort Mohave Educator into National Spotlight
At Camp Mohave Elementary, Aga Cook's extraordinary performance and leadership in the classroom and beyond earn her the first-ever Milken Educator Award in the district
December 08, 2023
Santa Monica, Calif. — Aga Cook wears many important hats at Camp Mohave Elementary School. Serving as a fifth grade general education teacher, K-8 curriculum coordinator and data coach, Cook's dedication to education contributes to positive, schoolwide performance year after year. Today, Cook's dedication earned her another new title: a national Milken Educator.
At an all-school assembly, students, colleagues, dignitaries and media were abuzz with anticipation when Arizona Deputy Superintendent Margaret Dugan introduced a special guest to represent the Milken Family Foundation: National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Chief Executive Officer Dr. Joshua Barnett. The assembly quickly became a celebration for Cook, who could not believe her eyes when Dr. Barnett presented her with the prestigious Milken Educator Award — accompanied by an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Cook is the first recipient in the Mohave Valley Elementary School District since the Awards' creation in 1987.
"The time, energy and passion Aga Cook puts into education every day is truly commendable," said Dr. Barnett. "Every lesson Aga delivers is creative, relevant, and strongly aligned to the standards and abilities students need to master to be successful in school and life. This year, Aga's added roles and responsibilities at the district have allowed her to broaden her impact across her school, district, and community. The Milken Educator Network will provide a national platform to continue to elevate her practice and influence on the profession today. Congratulations, Aga."
Cook is the second and final Arizona Milken Educator recipient this 2023-24 season. She joins Ashley Meyer, who received her Award yesterday, Dec. 7, at Horizon Honors Elementary School in Phoenix. Both Cook and Meyer are among up to 75 recipients across the country who will be honored as part of the Milken Family Foundation's historic, nationwide tour reaching the presentation of the 3,000th Milken Educator in 2024.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne stated, "Aga Cook is an outstanding educator who helps drive the success of her students both in her role as a fifth-grade teacher and as a district-level K-8 curriculum coordinator and data coach. Aga remains committed to meeting the needs of each one of her students while also leading fellow faculty in gathering, reporting, and utilizing data to inform the instructional process."
Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," 2023-24 will reach $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, empowering recipients to "Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate" the K-12 profession and inspiring young, capable people to pursue teaching as a career.
Milken Educator Award recipients are completely unaware of their candidacy for the Award. Recipients cannot apply; they are sought out while early to mid-career for what they have achieved – and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities afforded by the Award.
More About Aga Cook
Nurturing Lifelong Learners: Aga Cook's lifelong educational journey gives new meaning to the word "dedicated." Originally hailing from Poland, Cook has made her mark on Camp Mohave Elementary School in her roles as a fifth grade teacher and district-level positions as a K-8 curriculum coordinator and data coach. Cook forges community partnerships to bring her data-driven lessons to life, whether it is turning her classroom into a mock trial, setting up a solar project with an electric company or inviting a bank to speak to students about financial literacy. Her creativity in expertly weaving standards into her instruction is paying off, driving her students to consistently outperform the state and district in ELA and math. Cook’s success in the classroom has allowed her to broaden her impact on the school and district, where she helps lead fellow faculty in gathering, reporting, and utilizing data to inform instruction. As a curriculum coordinator, she helps to ensure that newly adopted ELA and math curriculum, as well as standards pacing guides, meet student needs.
Serving as a Resource: Sitting on the school leadership team, Cook often leads grade-level data meetings and collaborates with colleagues on effective instructional strategies. Her leadership extends to school and district professional development, where she has presented on topics spanning curriculum evaluation, data collection, assessment, and classroom management. Fostering a healthy growth mindset for herself and colleagues, Cook also attends conferences and presents at district board meetings. Additionally, she has contributed her rich knowledge of standards through rubric and pacing guide development on the curriculum adoption committee and curriculum alignment and revision council.
Developing Strong Relationships with Students, Families and the Broader Community: In addition to involving the Fort Mohave community in the collective education of her students, Cook develops strong relationships among families, communicating frequently with parents and providing livestreamed lessons for students who are absent. Outside of school, she teaches adult English as a second language (ESL) classes at Mohave Community College.
Education: Cook earned a Diploma of Higher Education in Law from the University of Lodz in Poland in 2002 before arriving in Arizona in 2005. She received a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Northern Arizona University in 2011 as well as her teaching certification there in 2012. Cook earned a Master of Education in educational administration from Grand Canyon University in 2019.
More about the Milken Educator Award Journey: "The Future Belongs to the Educated"
- The honorees attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in June 2024, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education.
- Honorees receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. Milken Friends Forever (MFF) pairs a new recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor; the Expanding MFF Resource and Explorer Program fosters individual veteran Milken Educator partnerships around a specific topic area; and Activating Milken Educators (AME) promotes group collaboration in and across states to tackle pressing educational needs.
- Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels.
- The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. Some recipients have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.
Follow the Milken Educator Awards tour and use the #MEA3K and #MilkenAward hashtags on: Facebook (MilkenEducatorAwards) | X (Milken) | YouTube (MilkenAward) | Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn) | LinkedIn (MilkenFamilyFdn) | TikTok (MilkenAward).
Visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772 for more information.
About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken, the Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at MFF.org.