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Surprise! Chatham County, North Carolina, Science Teacher Nabs Milken Educator Award and Becomes $25,000 Richer

Eric Patin Is First Chatham County Recipient in Milken Educator Award History

October 15, 2015

SANTA MONICA, CA – Best day ever? If you were to ask Chatham Central High (Chatham County Schools) science department chair Eric Patin that question, he would undoubtedly say yes.

Today, before an all-school assembly of cheering students, respected colleagues, distinguished officials and the media, he was named North Carolina’s 2015 Milken Educator Award recipient. Accompanying the prestigious honor was an unrestricted check in the amount of $25,000. Patin joins up to 40 other educators nationwide to receive the award this year.

He is the first from Chatham County to receive the Milken Educator Award since the launch of the program in 1987.

“Eric Patin’s dedication to bringing out the best in his students is evident in everything he does,” said Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. “He tailors instruction to individual needs, ties lesson plans to tangible, real-world experiences, and helps prepare them for college and careers. His teaching has made a lasting impact on his students, and we look forward to following his work to shape young people into productive citizens.”

“One of the highest compliments any teacher could receive is knowing that students request you for their teacher and this is true for Eric,” said State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson. “He is well-respected by students and fellow teachers. Chatham Central High is fortunate to have him on staff, and North Carolina is fortunate to have him in its teaching ranks."

“Awarding one of our fine Chatham County teachers with the Milken Educator Award for the first time has been an absolutely thrilling prospect,” added Chatham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Derrick D. Jordan. “Mr. Patin is a stellar educator and we are so pleased to have him as a part of the Chatham County Schools family. He is a prime example of the quality of educators serving our students each and every day.”

As head of Chatham Central’s science department, Patin is an expert at using student performance data to inform both classroom instruction and tutoring. New teachers are referred to Patin as a model for developing lesson plans. His science courses are rooted in constant student assessment, which Patin analyzes weekly to guide activities that meet the needs of each student.

He is known as a highly effective teacher who consistently goes above and beyond to create opportunities that give students hands-on experience to truly understand concepts. By developing relatable learning plans that link day-to-day life with larger ideas, Patin is able to guide those with academic difficulties to perform to the best of their ability. Under Patin’s tutelage, students have some of the highest biology exam scores in the state and many have entered into honors classes.

Patin is a model educator who is dedicated to the academic improvement of students across Chatham County Schools. He volunteered to become a teacher for Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a program that seeks to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college. As an AVID leader, Patin has presented new teaching strategies to school leaders and the district at large, as well as advising teachers and district administrators on curriculum and assessment methods.

Patin’s positive impact on his students and their capacity to achieve is evident. All 20 of his first-year AVID students who graduated were accepted to at least one four-year college and amassed more than $3 million in scholarships. At their graduation, each of those students referenced Patin’s influence as an important factor in their accomplishments.

Patin holds National Board Certification in Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Science. He earned a Bachelor of Science in microbiology from the University of Michigan in 1999 and an Associate of Science from Grand Rapids Community College in 1996.

The Milken Educator Awards program has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Milken Awards are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.

This year, MFF is launching a #MyTeacherRocks Instagram campaign that encourages students to take selfies with their favorite teacher and describe in the caption why their teacher is special. To enter the contest, entrants are asked to follow @MilkenFamilyFdn on Instagram, post their selfie to their individual account and use the #MyTeacherRocks and #MilkenAward hashtags. The three photos with the most “likes” will be selected in November 2015, and February and April 2016.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at:

The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, were launched 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.