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High Fives and Fist Bumps for Josh Dingeldein, First in Plymouth Community School Corporation to Receive $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Plymouth High School English language arts teacher infuses academic rigor and excitement for learning

November 09, 2023

Santa Monica, Calif. — Plymouth High School English language arts teacher Josh Dingeldein (pronounced "Dingle-dyne") is often seen in the hallway cheering on his students with high fives and fist bumps. Yet today Dingeldein's students cheered him on as he accepted the very first Milken Educator Award in the Plymouth Community School Corporation. The Award comes with a $25,000 cash prize that Dingeldein can use however he wishes.   

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner surprised Dingeldein with the prestigious honor before enthusiastic students, colleagues, dignitaries and media. Bestowed by the Milken Family Foundation, the Award recognizes outstanding K-12 educators for their excellence and leadership in the profession.

"Talented teachers like Josh Dingeldein not only promote rigor and critical thinking, but also develop in their students a true love of learning," said Dr. Foley, who is also a 1994 Milken Educator from Indiana. "Josh sees a clear path to success for each student and guides them every step of the way. He brings that same enthusiasm to collaborating with colleagues, leading professional development, and innovative approaches to take learning to new heights. Congratulations, Josh, and welcome to the Milken Educator Network."

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation’s Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. 2023-24 will reach $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, empowering recipients to "Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate" the K-12 profession and inspiring young, capable people to pursue teaching as a career.

"Josh Dingeldein is the type of teacher who students will remember long after graduation, not only for the care and compassion he shows to his students, but for being an effective and forward-thinking educator," said Dr. Jenner. "His drive to see his students learn and grow is propelled by data and the use of differentiated instruction to best support students who need it most. Mr. Dingeldein also incorporates technology, allowing him to teach more efficiently and allowing his students to access learning in new and innovative ways."

The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are sought out while early to mid-career for what they have achieved – and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities afforded by the Award.

Dingeldein is the second and final recipient on the Milken Educator Awards tour in Indiana this 2023-24 season. Kendra Randle, executive principal of Adelante Schools' Emma Donnan Campus in Indianapolis received the Award yesterday, Nov. 8.

More About Josh Dingeldein

Enthusiasm to Help Students Reach their Highest Potential: English language arts teacher Josh Dingeldein seizes every opportunity to get students excited about learning. Each passing period, his positivity energizes the bustling hallways of Plymouth High School (PHS) as students eagerly accept his words of encouragement, fist bumps and high fives on their way to class. Dingeldein is celebrated for his ability to make all students feel like they matter, and his compassionate approach to education has allowed him to propel students further than they have ever imagined.

Academic Rigor Yields Results: A data-driven educator, Dingeldein's calculated instructional strategies help his ninth and 11th grade students navigate rigorous curriculum, while encouraging productive classroom collaboration and discourse. Using a timer, he keeps classes moving at pace and presents students with questions and feedback as they work through standards-based lessons in narrative, dialogue and thesis statement writing, as well as rhetorical analyses and researched blog projects. Students learn how to "show, not tell," through analyzing text and citing evidence, while those in need of extra support benefit from his differentiated instruction in small group sessions. Dingeldein's Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition course students outperformed the state and global average of students scoring a 3 or higher on the AP test. In 2022-23, 54% of PHS students outperformed the state and met the benchmark on the SAT's Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section due in large part to Dingeldein's efforts.

Innovation and Leadership Beyond Classroom Walls: Dingeldein is always willing to implement new strategies and technology in his classroom. With the rising popularity of ChatGPT, he saw the program as an opportunity rather than a threat. Choosing to use it as a learning tool, Dingeldein worked alongside colleagues to create approved ChatGPT prompts to use for analyzing student work, and to help students improve their writing. Active in school leadership and teacher mentorship, Dingeldein serves on PHS' guiding coalition, assisting in the schoolwide effort to become a model professional learning community. In this role, he has led professional development and helped guide the coalition's faculty presentation on proposed new, goal-setting initiatives. He also participates on the National Honor Society committee. 

Education: Dingeldein earned a Bachelor of Science in secondary English education from Taylor University in 2015. 

More about the Milken Educator Award Journey: "The Future Belongs to the Educated"

  • The honorees attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in June 2024, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education.
  • Honorees receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. Milken Friends Forever (MFF) pairs a new recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor; the Expanding MFF Resource and Explorer Program fosters individual veteran Milken Educator partnerships around a specific topic area; and Activating Milken Educators (AME) promotes group collaboration in and across states to tackle pressing educational needs.
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. Some recipients have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.  

Follow the Milken Educator Awards tour and use the #MEA3K and #MilkenAward hashtags on: Facebook (MilkenEducatorAwards) | X (Milken) | YouTube (MilkenAward) | Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn) | LinkedIn (MilkenFamilyFdn) | TikTok (MilkenAward).

Visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772 for more information.

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