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Milken Educator Awards welcome Anna Capobianco as the 2017-18 recipient for the State of Connecticut

The West Hartford teacher also receives an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize and national recognition

October 24, 2017

SANTA MONICA, Calif., — High school English teacher Anna Capobianco prepares students with communications skills to use language effectively and present persuasively, but she was momentarily at a loss for words today when her name was called out as Connecticut's 2017 Milken Educator Award recipient. Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley surprised Capobianco before 1,400 cheering "Warriors" and visiting dignitaries at William H. Hall High School in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dr. Dianna Wentzell joined West Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Moore in recognizing the outstanding teaching efforts of Capobianco during the secret announcement at an all-school assembly.

Capobianco is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Connecticut this year, and the first from the West Hartford Public Schools district since 1998. Capobianco is among up to 45 honorees who will receive this national recognition and unrestricted $25,000 cash prize for 2017-18.

Whether it's piloting a new Advanced Placement course, developing teacher guidelines for implementation of Google Classroom or inspiring colleagues to adopt "Nonfiction Fridays," Capobianco engages students, parents and faculty to reach high standards and exemplary outcomes. Anna works hard to ensure her students explore complex topics and examine perspectives by reading literary and informational texts and writing expository essays.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching" has been opening minds and shaping futures for 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."

"Anna Capobianco has a great capacity for instilling and precipitating excellence because of the enduring partnerships she creates with each student. She focuses on individual student learning opportunities that optimize their personal improvement, and students repeatedly credit her for their academic growth," said Jane Foley. "She is a 'leader from behind' in the classroom, on campus and in the district. We applaud her commitment to education and look forward to the continued impact she'll make as an outstanding Milken Educator."

"Anna Capobianco has high expectations for all of her students and helps them rise to their potential," said Commissioner Dianna Wentzell. "She recognizes the importance of taking every student from where they are to where they can be through effective instruction, academic support, and family engagement. Ms. Capobianco is a teacher leader who is highly respected for her ability to inspire those around her to strive for excellence. We congratulate Ms. Capobianco, Hall High School, and West Hartford on this well-deserved honor."

"We are thrilled and so proud that the Milken Family Foundation has chosen to honor Anna this year," said Superintendent Thomas Moore. "As hundreds of her students will no doubt attest, they got it right! Anna is an educational superstar."

"The reason Anna is such an outstanding educator is she never forgets to put the student first," said Hall High School Principal, Daniel Zittoun. "She knows how to make her students take ownership of their learning and have them be the stars."

About Milken Educator Anna Capobianco
English teacher Anna Capobianco leads her students at West Hartford's Hall High School to ever-greater heights. When the College Board introduced its new AP Seminar course, Capobianco eagerly volunteered to pioneer it at Hall, helping the organization refine the curriculum and reading AP exams at the end of the year. Nearly all of Capobianco's AP Seminar students passed the new course's exam, with five of the 16 earning 5's, the highest score. In addition to AP classes, Capobianco also team-teaches an English class with a reading interventionist; last year, the entire class reached grade-level performance by the end of school. Hall students turn to Capobianco for support beyond the classroom; she stays in touch with many students as they move on to college, and Hall graduates often cite her influence as foundational to their success.

Capobianco connects with her students through humor, a welcoming tone, and an energetic approach that engages all learning styles. She stresses problem-solving and critical analysis, helps students set rigorous and attainable learning goals, and encourages them to stretch intellectually through programs like Nonfiction Fridays, in which students lead class discussions about articles and books tied to the week's theme. Nonfiction Fridays have been so successful that all 14 English teachers at Hall now use the program in their classrooms.

Capobianco is well-versed in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), ensuring that her lessons are accessible to all students and adjusting her instruction based on embedded formative assessments. She piloted professional development for UDL and offers help both formally and informally to colleagues across the district. Capobianco also developed lessons and led teacher training for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Google Classroom. She serves on Hall's English Language Arts (ELA) team, the district's curriculum council, and the Connecticut State Department of Education's Learn Zillion "Teacher Dream Team." As one of the developers of Hall's advisory program, Capobianco mentors student teachers, serves on interview committees, and guest lectures in the Alternative Route to Certifications program for the state's Office of Higher Education.

Capobianco earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 2006 and a master's in English Education in 2007 from the University of Connecticut, plus a master's in teacher leadership in 2011 from Walden University.

More information about Capobianco, 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, Capobiancos' 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, 2017-18 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Washington, D.C., March 20-23, 2018. 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 about the Milken Educator Awards, 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 30 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.

Jana Rausch
Communications Director
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell

Lynne Russo 
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