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Milken Family Foundation Surprises Chubbuck Elementary Teacher with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Third grade teacher Tiffany Lemos fosters scholastic achievement by promoting students' physical health
Oprah Winfrey congratulates Milken Educators in heartwarming video message as 'light in this world'

March 18, 2022

Chubbuck, Idaho — In a surprise assembly today, Tiffany Lemos, a third-grade teacher at Chubbuck Elementary School, received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for her excellence and innovation in education. Lemos uses a whole-brain teaching style to help her students work in ways that meet their individual needs by promoting movement and physical health in the classroom. 

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra surprised Lemos with the honor before cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials, and the media. Lemos is only one of two honorees from Idaho and among more than 60 to receive the recognition during the 2021-22 school year. 

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Milken Educator Awards celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it. 

"Tiffany Lemos' creative approach to teaching is one of the many reasons she is an exceptional educator," commented Dr. Foley, who herself is a 1994 Milken Educator from Indiana. "Her ability to give her students autonomy in how they learn while encouraging parental involvement creates an effective synergy that produces highly engaged, successful students." 

The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award. 

"Winning a Milken Educator Award is a rare and remarkable honor, so it's appropriate that Tiffany Lemos is a remarkable teacher," Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said. "With a master's in educational technology, a gift for interpersonal connection and boundless creativity, she builds a strong learning community with her third-graders and their parents. The results are stellar, both in terms of individual growth and objective test results. On the 2019 ISAT, her students demonstrated proficiency well above state averages – 75 percent for math and 71 percent for English Language Arts." 

"Today is a remarkable day for the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 and I would like to commend Tiffany Lemos for this recognition," said Dr. Douglas Howell, PCSD 25 Superintendent. "Walking into Tiffany's classroom for the first time, I immediately noticed how welcoming of an environment she was able to create for her learners. She sets the stage for a true learning experience every day," he said. 

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year's winners in a video message shared earlier this week thanking "the most incredible educators around the country" and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the "tireless work" they do. 

More about Tiffany Lemos 

Innovation: Lemos understands that there is a strong correlation between a student's physical health and his or her ability to learn, and she incorporates this concept every day in her classroom through the use of "brain breaks" and meditation videos. She also raised the funds for alternative seating through a DonorsChoose campaign to help her students work in ways that meet their individual needs and promote movement in the classroom. She had the students design and sign a contract outlining guidelines to ensure they would not be distracted by the new seating styles, which allowed them independence in regard to their academic growth in a fun, unique environment. 

Leadership: Lemos has a master's in educational technology, which was essential when COVID-19 closed the schools in the spring of 2020. She was a valuable resource for students, parents and colleagues as her community pivoted to remote instruction. She provided student support and daily instruction in an effort to maximize learning in a dynamic, new landscape. Lemos also serves on the school leadership team and the district’s unit development team where she facilitates instruction "CAMPs" (Come And Meet Periodically) for all third grade teachers in the district. Before joining Chubbuck Elementary in 2016, she spent a year teaching English to K-3 students in Nonthaburi, Thailand. 

Education: Lemos earned a bachelor's in elementary education in 2011 and a master's in educational technology in 2013 from Boise State University. 

More information about Lemos, plus links to photos and video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at:

More about the Milken Educator Awards: "The future belongs to the educated."

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
  • Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • "We find you. You don't find us!" Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 
  • The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children. 

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 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. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at

Press Contact:

Jana Rausch
Vice President, Communications
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell