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Mayflower Hometown Hero Andrew Harrison Surprised With $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Lowell Milken, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva present Mayflower High alumnus with district's first Milken Award

October 04, 2023

Santa Monica, Calif. Students at Mayflower High School are connected in one unique way: They have social studies teacher and athletics coach Andrew Harrison guiding them through not only the depths of history, but also the experiences of high school. Harrison encourages students to value teamwork and collaboration in their growth as both learners and people. Today, it was the school community's turn to cheer for Coach Harrison when philanthropist and education visionary Lowell Milken surprised him with Mayflower Public Schools' first Milken Educator Award in the initiative's 36-year history. The Award comes with a $25,000 cash prize Harrison can use however he wishes. 

"Research confirms that during the school day, nothing has a greater impact on how students learn than the quality of the teacher in the classroom," said Lowell Milken, founder of the Milken Educator Awards and chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. "Andrew Harrison sets a shining example by advancing his own instruction and mentoring others: He establishes high expectations, collaborates with colleagues, and leads with care and compassion. It is a pleasure to welcome Andrew into the national Milken Educator Network where he will have the opportunity to broaden his impact on rural education and the K-12 profession at large."

Milken was joined by Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva at the school assembly of cheering students, proud colleagues, dignitaries and media. Along with the financial prize, Harrison will join the national Milken Educator Network, a growing group of more than 2,900 professionals working to shape the future of education. 

"Andrew Harrison is the third outstanding Arkansas teacher who was named a Milken Educator this week," Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva said. "A Mayflower graduate himself, Mr. Harrison's dedication to his students, colleagues, and community is evident in his daily life both in and out of the classroom. He strives for instructional excellence, welcomes feedback from administrators, and leads from the classroom. His leadership, approach to teaching, and contribution to a culture of teamwork lead to student achievement and success." 

The Milken Educator Awards are hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching." Harrison is among up to 75 recipients across the country this school year who will be awarded as part of the Milken Family Foundation’s Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. This season 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.

Outstanding educators like Harrison are not aware of their candidacy for the Award. Recipients 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 Andrew Harrison 

Classroom Connections: As a Mayflower alumnus, Harrison is a product of the very community he now serves. Students are accustomed to his cheerful presence in the classroom, football field, track, or even the bowling alley. He often uses a coaching approach when teaching, emphasizing a teamwork-driven culture while maintaining healthy competition in the classroom. Harrison leads by example and is always willing to go above and beyond to grow as an educator. Whenever new strategies or concepts are implemented, he videotapes his lessons and sends them to administrators for constructive feedback. One of his recorded lessons explaining the Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain (RACE) writing method was sent as an example to other teachers on how to implement the practice in their classrooms.

Educational Leadership: Through a partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), Mayflower High School has built an instructional leadership team (ILT) for maintaining continual growth of instructional excellence. Harrison is heavily involved in Mayflower's ILT, meeting weekly with colleagues to analyze student data, develop standards-based success criteria, lead professional development, and apply the strategies right into the classroom. He also leads a Professional Learning Community (PLC) for physical education, health, social studies teachers and athletic coaches. NIET's Arkansas Rural Educator Network has allowed Harrison to lead a virtual 2023 statewide social studies educator collaboration, giving rural educators a network in which to reflect and discuss standard-based successes.

Building Community: As a coach, Harrison ensures his players grow up to be active community leaders by organizing volunteer events like "Pink Out" breast cancer awareness nights, elementary school reading visits, and local cemetery cleanups with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which he also sponsors. 

Education: Harrison is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University, earning a bachelor's in professional studies in 2015. In 2020, he earned a master's from the University of Central Arkansas in educational leadership and administration.

Harrison is the third and final Arkansas Milken Educator honored this 2023-24 season. He joins Michael Tapee of Hellstern Middle School in Springdale, who was awarded yesterday, Oct. 3, and Ashley Anderson of Greenbrier Middle School in Greenbrier, who was awarded this morning, Oct. 4.

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)

Visit 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