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East Feliciana Parish Teacher Laura Laiche Earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award for Advancing Excellence for Students and Colleagues
Slaughter Elementary third grade teacher promotes ownership of learning and mentors faculty
March 14, 2022
Santa Monica, Calif., — Laura Laiche has the best of both worlds at Slaughter Elementary School in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana: She has a direct impact on the classroom as a third grade teacher and helps drive instruction schoolwide as a faculty mentor. At an all-school assembly today, Laiche was surprised with a national Milken Educator Award for her dedication to advancing excellence for all. The recognition includes a $25,000 cash prize that she can use however she chooses.
Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken was joined by Louisiana Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley to present Laiche with the prestigious honor before cheering students, appreciative colleagues, state and local dignitaries, and media. In addition to today's fanfare, Laiche will join a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients dedicated to strengthening K-12 education.
Laiche is among more than 60 educators across the country who will receive the Award during the 2021-22 season. She is the first recipient from East Feliciana Public Schools.
"Laura Laiche is a strong instructional leader," said Lowell Milken. "By encouraging her young students to set high expectations and track progress, she is developing a love and ownership of learning that they will carry through school and life. As a mentor teacher, Laura's skills, knowledge and experiences are creating ripples of excellence in the school and community at large."
As a mentor teacher in the school's implementation of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement – a signature initiative of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), Laiche plays an integral role on Slaughter’s leadership team. The team’s primary responsibilities include goal-setting, guiding regular job-embedded professional learning, coaching colleagues in classrooms and leveraging educators’ talents to drive student growth.
"From her work with dyslexic students after school, to her whole brain activities in a student-led third grade classroom, to her service as a TAP mentor teacher, Laura Laiche demonstrates all that is right in Louisiana schools," said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley.
Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. 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.
More About Laura Laiche
In the Classroom: Walk into Laiche's classroom and you’ll see every student actively engaged in learning. Laiche uses whole-brain teaching, including visual cues and hand gestures, as students perch on stools around a table or on sensory objects like balls and beanbag chairs. During a weeklong "space mission," students learn to identify text features in space-themed nonfiction passages and articles to collect clues, solve the puzzle and "save" an astronaut. Laiche brings in parents and community members for Young Authors' Night, where students read aloud their stories about, for instance, being trapped inside snow globes. Her methods deliver excellent results: For 2018-19, 90% of Laiche's students scored proficient for ELA on the LEAP 2025 state assessment, with 70% at Mastery and Advanced levels.
Promoting Student Ownership: Laiche encourages students to take ownership of their learning as they become lifelong learners and avid readers and writers. Her standards are high; instruction is rigorous and differentiated. Students set their own learning targets and monitor progress toward those goals, with Laiche keeping track of each child's mastery in her student tracking binder. She builds their self-esteem, ensures they have confidence in themselves and encourages their hopes for the future.
School and District Leadership: Laiche constantly researches innovative teaching strategies to incorporate into her classroom and share with colleagues. She has attended the Louisiana Department of Education's Teacher Leader Summit and NIET’s National Conference and Summer Institute, always bringing back detailed reports to apply at Slaughter. As a TAP mentor teacher, Laiche helps to develop school goals and the strategies to achieve them. She facilitates weekly cluster meetings, researches and field-tests teaching strategies, observes classrooms, provides feedback, and models teaching techniques and lessons to improve instruction and student outcomes. Laiche is working with other ELA content leaders to deliver training to all new teachers throughout East Feliciana Parish. After school, she provides additional reading instruction in a multisensory language program for dyslexic students.
Parental Engagement: Parents always know what their children are working on, and Laiche communicates with them regularly about their students' progress, whether a pupil is excelling or struggling with a particular skill. She was the first teacher at Slaughter to connect with parents using the Class Dojo app, which, thanks to her, is now used throughout the building.
Education: Laiche earned a bachelor's in business administration and a certificate in elementary education in 2011 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
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.
Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year's recipients in a video message thanking "the most incredible educators around the country" and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the "tireless work" they do.
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 MilkenEducatorAwards.org 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 MFF.org.