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There's no debating this decision: Jordan McGaughey is Missouri’s only Milken Educator Award recipient for 2017

The 10th Grade teacher at Seckman High School receives a check for $25,000

October 17, 2017

SANTA MONICA, Calif., — "Speed dating" is highly encouraged in Jordan McGaughey's sophomore class…as long as the topic is American Government. McGaughey promotes classroom activities that foster cooperative learning and collaborative projects -writing letters to state legislators about current issues, debating sessions on how a bill becomes law, or developing video presentations on constitutional topics – that aid content mastery. And it seems to work: his students consistently score above state and district averages on end-of-course exams.

When McGaughey talks, his students listen but today he was shocked into silence when Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, surprised him with the prestigious Milken Educator Award. Dr. Margie Vandeven, Missouri’s Commissioner of Education, and Dr. Jim Wipke, FOX C-6 Superintendent, were also present to honor this exceptional educator in front of a cheering gymnasium of 1,700 students.

McGaughey is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Missouri this year and the first recipient ever from the Fox School District. He is among up to 45 honorees who will receive this national recognition and unrestricted $25,000 cash prize for 2017-18.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching" has been opening minds and shaping futures for 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America's next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, "The future belongs to the educated."

This tenth-grade teacher is on a mission that his students become engaged citizens, fully cognizant of governmental structures all the while emphasizing the importance of civic duties like jury duty and national responsibilities including voting. He creates a positive environment where students seek life, liberty and the pursuit of developing their own voice and opinion, and learn to make it count.

"Jordan McGaughey is an innovator. He creates authentic opportunities that engage his students in the education process and their scores are a direct result of that involvement," said Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation chairman and co-founder, who created the Awards. "His integration of technology and social media is relevant to this age group, but more importantly an effective demonstration of communication and information sharing at a higher level. Jordan's students are developing character and perspective, and we’re pleased to welcome this educator into the Milken family."

"We are delighted that Jordan is among Missouri's Milken Educator Award winners," said Commissioner Vandeven. "His ability to inspire learning exemplifies why great teaching matters. His students have mentioned his influence as they entered professional careers."

About Milken Educator Jordan McGaughey
In Jordan McGaughey's American Government classes, students learn to be global citizens. McGaughey stresses the value of diversity, debate and critical thinking as students create presentations and videos, write to legislators, and simulate the legislative process with mock Congressional sessions. In one lesson, students developed, presented, discussed and voted on new Constitutional amendments. McGaughey keeps his own political leanings under wraps, encouraging students to explore all sides of each issue as they connect historical events to the current political climate. His students consistently perform above district and state averages on year-end assessments: last year, 92% scored Advanced or Proficient. Students work hard for McGaughey because they know he respects them and will always treat them fairly and equally. Citing his influence, students have gone on to careers in government, legislation and education.

McGaughey varies his teaching style, rotating among cooperative learning activities, collaborative inquiry-based learning and traditional lectures. A Google Certified Educator, he incorporates technology like Google Classroom, Socrative and Kaboot into his curriculum. Social media plays an important part in McGaughey's teaching: he leads Twitter chats in which students engage in live debates during important events like the State of the Union addresses and election nights. He hosted a national Twitter chat on teaching media literacy for government teachers, and has presented professional development for the district on using Twitter to engage students and enhance professional learning networks.

Committed to supporting fellow educators, McGaughey serves on his district's professional development and American Government curriculum committees, mentors student teachers, and acts as an instructional coach. He is a member of the Missouri Council for Social Studies and the St. Louis Teacher Academy, a year-long professional learning program focused on teacher growth. Last year McGaughey presented at a back-to-school meeting for the district's 1,650 staff members; his message, about creating a masterpiece through service, love, care, and putting students first, inspired all who heard it.

McGaughey earned a bachelor's degree in history in 2007 and a master's in education in 2008 from Truman State University.

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

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, McGaughey's honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2017-18 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Washington, D.C., March 20-23, 2018. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional learning opportunities throughout recipients' careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children's education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at,,, and

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

About the Milken Educator Awards
The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 30 years ago 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.

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