Press Releases    All Press Releases


San Antonio Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

BASIS San Antonio Primary Medical Center's Diana Lopez becomes second recipient in Texas this season, joins up to 40 outstanding educators nationwide

February 10, 2023

San Antonio, Texas — Third grade teacher Diana Lopez received the surprise of a lifetime when she was presented with a Milken Educator Award. The national honor, bestowed by the Milken Family Foundation, includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley was joined by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to present Lopez with the prestigious honor at a vibrant school assembly earlier today. 

"Through high expectations and creativity in the classroom, Diana Lopez prioritizes students' needs and encourages them to realize their maximum potential," said Dr. Foley, who is herself a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. "I am pleased to welcome Diana to our vast and talented nationwide network of Milken Educators and look forward to the contributions she will bring furthering her development in the profession." 

Created by Lowell Milken, the Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year's winners' list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced. 

"Teachers are the single most important in-school factor impacting student outcomes. It's why I'm honored to join the Milken Family Foundation in celebrating and rewarding Diana Lopez, an exceptional educator in every possible way," said Commissioner Morath. "Your service to your students and the San Antonio community is a shining example that your impact goes well beyond the walls of your classroom. Congratulations and thank you for what you do." 

Lopez joins Jenna Dean, a fourth grade teacher at Helena Park Elementary School in Nederland, as the second and final recipient in Texas this season. The two Texas recipients are among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-2023 school year. In addition to today's celebration, she will have the opportunity to join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 and growing of exemplary K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this April. 

Since the initiative's inception in 1987, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. 

More About Diana Lopez 

Inspiring Greatness Through Innovative Instruction: Lopez's third graders are inspired to achieve greatness, maintain a strong work ethic and never settle for mediocrity as they are held to the highest standards in her classroom. The students arrive excited to learn as they sample new stories and check out items from the class library at "book tastings." Lopez's creativity and innovative instructional strategies provide a fun learning environment where students dress in costumes representing abstract language concepts like idioms, metaphors and hyperbole. The school has a large contingent of English learners whom Lopez supports with interventions, weekly student hours and frequent communication. Her methods deliver—last year, 97% of her students passed the state's STAAR reading assessment, meeting or exceeding the state's standards for the assessment. 

A School and Charter Network Leader: Lopez is a proven leader at her school where she leads the third grade team of ELA teachers and mentors the humanities and English teachers on campus. She developed curriculum now used by 30 schools in the BASIS Charter network. During the pandemic, Lopez created presentations, worksheets, videos and more for colleagues as they transitioned to online instruction. She is a valued resource for new teachers on campus, helping them understand curriculum, develop classroom management skills and fit into the school culture. 

Cultivating Strong Relationships: Lopez goes to great lengths to familiarize herself with her students, knowing those relationships will make it easier to reach and help them. Alongside academics, Lopez talks about inclusivity and compassion and actively works to meet the individual needs of each student. She explains that each problem is unique, and students learn in a variety of ways and need different supports. 

Education: Lopez is a graduate of St. John's University. She holds a bachelor's in English and philosophy (2005) and a master's in childhood education (2011). 

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

Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 and growing of exemplary 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 in Los Angeles this April, 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 (MFF) mentoring program, in which new 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. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of 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 receive 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. 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