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Devotion, discipline and delivering on promises earn Anitra Pinchback-Jones a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Seattle principal instills a culture of excellence at Rainier View Elementary

November 13, 2018

SANTA MONICA, Calif., — Discipline dovetails into devotion for Principal Anitra Pinchback-Jones at Rainier View Elementary in Seattle where expectations are lofty—with test scores to match. Beginning with daily school gatherings of faculty and students, Pinchback-Jones amps up student interest and drives teacher performance. She sets the bar high with rigorous demands and data-driven instructional systems that guide teachers' lesson plans without unduly constraining them. Allowing space for creative reforms while ensuring steady progress, Pinchback-Jones keeps her eyes on the prize of student growth and achievement even for those who need a helping hand up to reach their goals and improve their academic performance and future prospects.

But it was Pinchback-Jones whose future got the biggest boost this morning at a surprise school assembly where she was presented with a Milken Educator Award by Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Seattle District Superintendent Denise Juneau. An elated Pinchback-Jones was named a 2018-19 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from the state of Washington this year, and is among the up to 40 honorees for 2018-19.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching," has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America's next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, "The future belongs to the educated."

A Seattle native, Pinchback-Jones is committed to public education, serving students of diverse backgrounds, mentoring other principals and ensuring that the culture of excellence she has driven at Rainier View is permanently embedded in the school ethos. Pinchback-Jones leads the charge for continuous improvement together with her faculty, and Rainier View students deliver some of the highest achievement and growth scores in the state.

"Administrators like Anitra Pinchback-Jones make huge leaps in educational performance possible," said Foley. "By creating a living structure for learning and growth—using smart scheduling, savvy data analysis and a welcoming environment—Pinchback-Jones lays the groundwork for any kind of student progress and future growth imaginable. Pinchback-Jones is the sort of school leader we all would have liked to have had, and we're proud to welcome her into the circle of Milken Educators."

"Principal Pinchback-Jones leads with her heart," said Juneau. "She is committed to the success of each and every student at Rainier View Elementary school. Her laser-like focus on academic achievement and community is apparent throughout the school. Thank you for your tremendous leadership Principal Pinchback-Jones!"

About Milken Educator Anitra Pinchback-Jones
Every morning, Principal Anitra Pinchback-Jones gathers students and staff at Rainier View Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, for an all-school meeting. She welcomes students, letting them know that their teachers are excited to see them and have prepared outstanding lessons for the day ahead. Pinchback-Jones reminds young people to work hard and try their best. The principal intentionally reinforces a culture of excellence and high standards. When new students arrive at the school, they spend several days visiting classrooms from kindergarten through fifth grade to illustrate the high expectations consistent among grade levels and teachers. Rainier View students deliver some of the highest achievement and growth scores in the state, and the Council of Great City Schools places Rainier View in the country's top 1 percent for students of color.

Pinchback-Jones holds the same high expectations of teachers. She pores over assessment data and creates tight systems to ensure that students have access to rigorous content and ever-improving instructional practices. The principal creates a master schedule including daily literacy and math blocks. Teachers submit weekly lesson plans that align instruction with district and state standards. Pinchback-Jones encourages faculty to give new reforms a chance and, in turn, they often serve as a model for other schools to emulate. When Rainier View was inundated with observation requests for one such reform, the principal required visitors to provide both positive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

A strong leader in Seattle Public Schools, Pinchback-Jones serves on the Principal Professional Development Team, planning and delivering ongoing education to help all the district's principals improve their practices. As a literacy lead principal, she showcases excellence in literacy instruction, rolls out new literacy curriculum, and has designed professional development with teachers to support innovative literacy practices.

Pinchback-Jones earned her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from University of Washington in 2000 and a Master's in Teaching in 2001.

More information about Pinchback-Jones, 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, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2018-19 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans from March 21-24, 2019. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about 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 initiative, which includes powerful professional learning 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 Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are 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, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 31 years ago in 1987. 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.

Lynne Russo 
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