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Lisa Rodgers brings science to life for students and receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award for Colorado

AP Biology teacher at Grandview High School grows knowledge in her classroom

October 31, 2017

SANTA MONICA, Calif., — For Lisa Rodgers, being an educator isn't about what she teaches—it's about what students are learning. Science students at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado, can demonstrate their mastery of material through multiple forms of assessment, showing knowledge truly makes the grade. For her A+ efforts in teaching, Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, surprised Rodgers with the 2017-18 Milken Educator Award.

Colorado Commissioner of Education Dr. Katy Anthes and Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Dr. Harry Bull, Jr. joined the all-school assembly praising the exceptional work of this educator before a cheering crowd of students and special guests.

Rodgers is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Colorado this year, and 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."

Rodgers hosts an engaging, blended learning classroom for her students ranging from freshman to seniors. Through recorded lectures and pre-lab videos, science students never miss an opportunity to examine or re-examine the material. This level of preparation allows students to complete other activities during class time that further enhance their understanding and aptitude. 

"Lisa Rodgers is an advocate for student learning and an educational leader at both school and district levels, always reflecting and revising her instructional methodologies to reach every student," said Lowell Milken. "By teaching STEM subjects so effectively, I am optimistic about the future scientists, doctors and other vital pathways her students will pursue."

"Mrs. Rodgers serves as a model of excellence to her students, colleagues and community," said Commissioner Dr. Katy Anthes. "She motivates and inspires her students, advocates for her fellow educators, and seizes every opportunity to grow as a professional."

"Lisa Rodgers is an outstanding teacher who ignites a love of learning and a passion for science in her students. She embodies the values of creativity and innovation in designing lessons and uses technology to enrich student learning. I congratulate Mrs. Rodgers on this tremendous honor and thank her for her commitment to her students," said Cherry Creek Schools Superintendent Harry Bull.

About Milken Educator Lisa Rodgers
Lisa Rodgers, who teaches biology at Grandview High School in Aurora, Colorado, has a well-earned reputation as a lifelong learner focused on improving students' mastery. When she decided her AP Biology students needed more experience identifying molecules, she researched and developed a self-paced activity based on structural formulas of common organic molecules, then helped modify it for entry-level biology classes. Each semester Rodgers studies data on her students' exam performance, then reassesses her instruction to address noticeable gaps. In her class, students take exams online; if they fall short, they complete additional assignments and work with Rodgers before tackling the assessment again.

Rodgers teaches both ninth grade Physical Science and AP Biology. When she took over AP Biology three years ago, the program had one half-full class. Now the school has three completely full sections, with 100% of students sitting for the AP exam at the end of the year. In Rodgers' care, students' AP scores are among the highest in the district; 95% of students scoring 3 or higher.

Technology plays a large part in Rodgers' classroom. Students have 24/7 access to her classes: Rodgers creates videos for AP Biology pre-lab assignments and lectures, leaving class time for more hands-on work. She shares freely with colleagues her technological expertise on new technology features and programs, including Schoology, which is used throughout the building. Always looking for ways to help her colleagues, Rodgers piloted a new teacher assessment system for the district, has served on Grandview's technology and literacy teams, and presents to fellow teachers on professional development days. One recent session, called "Collapsing the Grading Scale," was based on a formula she co-created to ensure that the school's grading system accurately reflected student knowledge. Colleagues within and outside of her department seek Rodgers' expertise, wisdom and motivation. Rodgers' impact extends well beyond Grandview; she has taught at the Denver Zoo, presented at a regional conference of the National Science Teachers Association, and read AP Biology exams for the College Board.

Rodgers earned a bachelor's of science in biology in 2002 and a master's in teaching in 2003 from University of Puget Sound, as well as a master's of science in zoology from Colorado State University in 2005.

 More information about Rodgers, 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, Rodgers' 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 the importance of 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 development 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 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.

Jana Rausch
Communications Director
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell

Lynne Russo 
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