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Anchorage Teacher Paul Campbell Named Alaska Milken Educator, Earns $25,000

Chester Valley Elementary School teacher makes every minute count

November 22, 2016

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Known for his dedication to his school and broader community, Chester Valley Elementary teacher Paul Campbell received payback in a big way when he was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award during an all-school assembly. Campbell teaches a first- and second-grade "looped" classroom, which means that first graders remain with him in the second grade.

Campbell accepted the prestigious national recognition from Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, who traveled from California to present the Award. She was joined by Alaska Education Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson and Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Paramo.

This season marks the 30th year of the Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching." Campbell is among up to 35 educators who will receive the honor for the 2016-17 season. He is the only recipient from Alaska.

During the assembly, Campbell learned that he was in good company: Foley and Johnson are both recipients of the Milken Educator Award.

"Paul Campbell creates a nurturing, engaging environment where students are enthusiastic to learn," said Foley. "Paul instills crucial skills of reflection, critical thinking and social-emotional awareness in his students, paving the way for them to succeed academically and in life. I am excited to watch him advance as a force in the teaching profession."

"Congratulations to Paul Campbell, recipient of Alaska's 2016 Milken Educator Award," said Johnson. "Being recognized by the prestigious Milken Family Foundation as Alaska's 2008 Milken Educator was one of the greatest honors of my career. Having the opportunity to participate in this Milken Award notification is an even greater honor. Great teachers like Paul Campbell are, and always will be, the foundation of providing an excellent education for every student every day." 

"Being an outstanding educator is so much more than teaching content, it's also about the experience a student receives," said Paramo. "Every day, Mr. Campbell makes his classroom an engaging and fun place to be for each of his students. Students want to be in his class and they want to work hard to meet his high expectations. Together, they're building a great foundation of knowledge and love of learning."

Walk by Paul Campbell's classroom at Chester Valley Elementary and you are likely to hear both teacher and students singing. Campbell, whose calm, positive demeanor keeps his students engaged, uses music to smooth classroom transitions like lining up or changing activities. His young readers also use songbooks to practice literacy skills, belting out favorites like Disney's "Let It Go" with their teacher while reading the lyrics.

Campbell uses a range of effective instructional practices to maximize "bell-to-bell" learning—making every minute count!—in his classroom. The Title I school serves pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. He relies on formative assessment and engagement strategies like No Hands Up Except to Ask a Question and choral response; core instruction through the district's Houghton Mifflin and GoMath! programs; and intervention supports like Read Naturally and Phonics for Reading. Campbell continuously monitors student progress and adjusts as needed, focusing on students' individual needs. The ultimate reward is seeing achievement growth among his students in a short amount of time.

Campbell leads a warm, supportive classroom where students love to learn. A bearskin rug nicknamed "Bernard" covers the floor of the class reading nook; student-led fitness challenges keep learners motivated during afternoon literacy blocks. Campbell's dynamic delivery inspires students to challenge themselves both in class and with extracurricular events like the reading-focused Battle of the Books. Campbell helps students overcome their academic insecurities by pointing out that real mathematicians and scientists ask questions, seek input from others and learn from their mistakes through problem-solving. Campbell also protects his students' emotional safety; when one student was scared after a lockdown drill, Campbell pretended to be a grizzly bear whose mighty roar would scare off any intruders.

A strong communicator and grade-level leader, Campbell serves on Chester Valley's leadership team and helped draft the school's Title I improvement plans. He participated in social-emotional learning (SEL) training, then applied it both in his classroom and as a member of Chester Valley's SEL Leadership Cadre. The group planned and implemented professional development, quarterly student recognition and student SEL work throughout the school. Campbell co-taught "Picturing Anchorage," a social studies class offered to all second-grade teachers in the district throughout the year. During the school's work with the University of Washington's Center for Educational Leadership, administrative teams visited Campbell's classroom to collect data and observe instructional practices, praising his teaching as a standout model. He is a leader at the school for CHAMPS (a classroom management program) and is helping with the transition to the new State Standards. 

Campbell is from a family of educators and is a product of Anchorage School District, having graduated from West Anchorage High School. His commitment to the community is reflected in his participation in local events and connecting with his students' families. He can be seen at the Fall Festival, Science Night, and Skate Night (both roller-skating and ice skating) as well as helps with the cross-country ski club, wrestling practice, and managing the school's salmon tank. An avid outdoorsman, Campbell takes his students into the community for orienteering excursions, ice fishing and sled dog races.

Campbell earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington, in 2010.

More information about Campbell, plus links to photos and a video from today's assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Campbell's honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top principals, teachers and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2016-17 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum this spring in New Orleans. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about the importance of maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children's education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at,,, and

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. 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.