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Sixth Grade Teacher Ashley Anderson First in Greenbrier Public Schools to Receive Milken Educator Award

Lowell Milken, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva celebrate Anderson’s excellence in literacy

October 04, 2023

Santa Monica, Calif. At Greenbrier Middle School, sixth grade English language arts teacher Ashley Anderson tailors her instruction to ensure no learner is left behind. Yet today, the careful planner was caught completely by surprise when philanthropist and education visionary Lowell Milken presented Anderson with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award that she can use however she chooses. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva joined Milken to honor Anderson's excellence in education before hundreds of cheering students, proud colleagues, dignitaries and media. 

"We entrust educators with the greatest responsibility of preparing young people for a bright future. At the core of this responsibility is Ashley Anderson's passion: producing students who are literate, conversant, and confident," said Lowell Milken, founder of the Milken Educator Awards and chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. "As a strong teacher, leader, and collaborator, Ashley is working to ensure high-quality educational opportunities for all." 

Anderson is the first Greenbrier Public Schools teacher to receive a Milken Educator Award since the initiative's inception in 1987. In addition to the financial prize, Anderson gains lifelong membership to the Milken Educator Network, a growing group of more than 2,900 professionals coast to coast working to shape the future of education. 

"We are excited to recognize Ashley Anderson as a Milken Educator," Arkansas Department of Education Secretary Jacob Oliva said. "Ms. Anderson's dedication to ensuring that all students learn is evident in her instructional practices. She often collaborates with special education teachers at her school to ensure curriculum is accessible and challenging for all learners, she mentors first-year teachers, and she is an active member of the district's leadership team. Congratulations to Ms. Anderson on receiving this honor.' 

The Milken Educator Awards are hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching." Anderson 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 Anderson 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 Ashley Anderson 

Meeting the Needs of Every Student: In Ashley Anderson's sixth grade classroom at Greenbrier Middle School, no student is ever left behind. Anderson's remarkable ability to pivot and cater to the unique educational and behavioral needs of each student is a significant factor in their continuously growing performance. Through detailed and diligent lesson plans, Anderson works with special education teachers to ensure the curriculum is accessible and challenging for all levels of learners. Her inclusive strategies are used throughout Greenbrier Middle School. Being one of the first teachers trained in the RISE model (Resilience in Schools and Educators), Anderson harnessed her solution-based mindset, attention to detail and communication skills to help design her own unique RISE-based sixth grade course. Her curriculum input has driven clear results: Anderson's sixth-grade team has 86.2% of students proficient on ACT Aspire and shows high growth on the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Literacy assessment.

School Leadership: Anderson's spirit for community and school involvement shines brightly. She helps Greenbrier grow by helping to interview, train and mentor first-year teachers. Additionally, Anderson plays a pivotal role on Greenbrier's leadership team, curriculum committee, and literacy Professional Learning Community (PLC). 

Volunteer Efforts: Anderson volunteers hours of her time each year helping to coordinate school events such as the Greenbrier Games, an Olympic-style tradition getting students excited for testing; decorating floats for family and community night; sending encouraging pre-testing videos to staff, students and families; and organizing 'Walk in My Shoes' nights, during which fifth graders can come meet teachers, tour the school and learn more about their upcoming middle school transition. In addition, she volunteers unpaid hours in Greenbrier's VIP tutoring program after school. Her love of learning blossoms in her advocacy and collaboration with colleagues. She helps lead professional development workshops and presents at building retreat days on planning instruction and strategies that meet student needs. 

Education: Anderson is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University, earning a bachelor's in elementary education in 2018.  

Anderson is the second Arkansas Milken Educator Award recipient this season. She joins Michael Tapee of Hellstern Middle School in Springdale who received his Award yesterday, October 3. 

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.  

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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