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Second Maryland Math Teacher Recognized as One of Nation's Best with Surprise $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Bodkin Elementary School's Bradley Absher honored during nationwide tour for commitment to furthering the profession through innovation and excellence

April 18, 2024

Pasadena, Md. It was the surprise of a lifetime for Bodkin Elementary School fifth grade math teacher Bradley Absher! Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher, joined by Maryland Interim State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carey M. Wright today presented Absher with the Milken Educator Award, a prestigious national honor recognizing exceptional educators for outstanding dedication to excellence in education. The recognition, which comes with an unrestricted cash prize, was bestowed upon Absher in front of cheering students, colleagues, dignitaries and the media. Absher is the second and final Maryland Milken Educator this 2023-24 season, joining Maggie Arnold of Frederick who was honored earlier today.

"Through creative, hands-on instruction and collaboration, Bradley Absher is providing an unforgettable learning experience for his students," said Gallagher. "His commitment to ensuring all learners reach their potential is inspiring and makes him an exciting addition to the national Milken Educator Network. Congratulations!" 

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation's Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. 2023-24 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. 

"Bradley Absher's dedication to excellence in the classroom is truly commendable. We thank him for going above and beyond by tutoring students after school and being active in the community. I also appreciate his ability to find creative ways to teach math skills and connect mathematics to tangible topics and places children can investigate and learn from through their experiences," said Dr. Wright. "Great teachers like Bradley have a long-lasting effect on a student's success and I thank the Milken Family Foundation for recognizing and celebrating great teaching in Maryland." 

More About Bradley Absher 

Real-World Applications Make Lasting, Positive Impact: Bradley Absher fosters connection and impactful relationships with his students at Bodkin Elementary School where he teaches fifth grade math. With a focus on multi-faceted instruction, Absher begins his class each day with a Number Talks warm-up lesson, an instructional technique designed to stimulate mental math skills through intriguing, real-world mathematical puzzles. His classroom is designed in small-group rotations with review stations, technology, games, and centers – all tailored to his students' individual learning styles and needs. Absher devises creative ways to integrate mathematical principles into everyday experiences, such as multiplying fractions to create a "No Bake Cheesecake," mapping distances between national parks, and guiding students in crafting artwork to decorate the classroom to reinforce his geometry curriculum. More than half the fifth grade participate in his Genius Hour. The response to Absher's instruction is paying off: students are exceeding both student learning objectives (SLOs) and district benchmarks for proficiency and growth.

Absher's leadership extends beyond his classroom's walls where he mentors not only his own students, but also others in the school, offering after-school tutoring and unwavering support to students throughout their academic journeys at Bodkin. Actively involved in the school's extracurricular activities, Absher spearheads various clubs including STEM, SeaPerch, Math Mindset and both the board game and chess clubs. With a commitment to professional growth and personal excellence, Absher participates in the PTA, volunteers at events such as the environmental fair and math nights, leads the math action team, serves on the school improvement and leadership teams, supervises high school interns and student teachers, and leads the process for the county's Academic Achievement for All (AAA) math grant.

Leadership Beyond the Classroom: A positive role model in the broader community, Absher serves as a cooperating teacher for Anne Arundel Community College, where he attended himself before transferring to a four-year college. As a field work mentor through the Teach Institute where he supervises high school and college student interns, Absher provides aspiring educators with meaningful opportunities for learning during their time job-shadowing in his classroom, and he welcomes the chance to encourage and guide future educators. 

Education: Absher earned his Associate of Arts in teaching from Anne Arundel Community College in 2013, his Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Towson University in 2015, and his Master of Arts in Education (MAE) specializing in elementary math from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), in 2023. 

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 this June, 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) | TikTok (MilkenAward).

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