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Indianapolis Public Schools Teacher and International Baccalaureate Leader Melody Coryell Earns Milken Educator Award and $25,000

November 23, 2015

SANTA MONICA, CA — Melody Coryell, an English teacher and International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program coordinator at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, was surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award before an enthusiastic schoolwide assembly filled with cheering students, respected colleagues, distinguished officials and the media.

Coryell is among up to only 40 educators who will be presented with the prestigious honor during the Milken Family Foundation’s (MFF) coast-to-coast tour across the country. MFF has been rewarding outstanding elementary and secondary educators with the Award since 1987.

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley—herself an Indiana Milken Educator from the class of 1994—presented the prestigious honor with Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.

“Melody Coryell developed a passion for education at a very young age. Today, she is changing the lives of teachers and students every day,” said Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. “At Shortridge High School, Melody opens students’ eyes and minds to the world of learning, drawing from the diverse thoughts of literary greats around the globe. Because of her instruction, students not only enjoy a rich education, but also hold a deep understanding and respect for others that they will carry through life.”   

“I am honored to present Melody Coryell with a Milken Educator Award,” said Ritz. “Melody prepares her students to be global citizens through a high-quality, international curriculum.  And as a teacher-leader, she supports and encourages her colleagues to ensure that students are receiving an education of the highest quality.  As Indiana’s schools continue to experience a teacher shortage, now more than ever it is important to recognize the work of outstanding educators like Melody and to encourage the next generation to follow her example.”

Coryell was inspired to pursue her path after being accepted into an educational program in Kokomo, Indiana, in second grade. The experience demonstrated to her how education can open a young person’s eyes to the world and, in the process, change lives.

Coryell arrived to Shortridge High in July 2014 after over a decade as the IB coordinator and an English teacher at Lawrence North High School in Lawrence Township. There, she instituted recruitment strategies and modified program implementation, resulting in enrollment more than doubling.

Coryell hones her skills at Shortridge High, where her students are exposed to the diverse thinking of international authors and writers. Through her own experiences with international travel—having studied at Oxford University under a prestigious Whitinger scholarship at Ball State University—she instills the importance of cultural awareness and understanding through dialogue and literature. Coryell is acutely attuned to each student’s needs and ensures that students reach mastery before introducing new material. As a result, her students earned a 98% passing rate in English/Language Arts and a 100% passing rate for the IB diploma program.

In addition to her role facilitating the IB program, Coryell is the mentorship coordinator through which she leads weekly professional development sessions for all faculty. She is also a member of the school senior leadership team, coaches speech and debate, and organizes excursions and initiatives. Making the connections between school and parents a top priority, Coryell cultivates relationships through the organization of conferences, meetings and events.

Outside of the classroom, Coryell is a trusted IB leader at the broader level. She is vice president of the Hoosier Association of IB World Schools, and presents at conferences, conducts workshops and assists universities to determine college credit for IB courses.

Coryell also taught online courses for the Indiana Online Academy, and served as an ISTEP remediator and Pearson test writer. She received dual bachelor’s degrees in English and history from Ball State University in 2001; a teaching degree at Indiana Wesleyan University in 2013; and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Butler University in 2015.

More information about Coryell, plus photos and a video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

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 launched 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. Two photos with the most “likes” will be selected in February and April 2016. The first of the three winners was selected in November 2015.

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;;; and

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.