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Marple Newtown High School Teacher Elizabeth Landes First in District to Receive $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Sole 2019-20 Pennsylvania Milken Award recipient sparks passion for science

October 03, 2019

Santa Monica, Calif., — Staff members of Marple Newtown High School had the details of this morning's assembly welcoming Pennsylvania's education secretary down to a science — or so they thought — until they learned one of their own was about to become $25,000 richer.  

Before cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials and the media, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera presented science teacher Elizabeth Landes with the prestigious Milken Educator Award. The honor's $25,000 cash prize can be used however Landes wishes. Landes is the only Milken Award recipient in Pennsylvania and among up to 40 honorees nationwide to receive the recognition during the 2019-20 season. She is the first from the Marple Newtown School District.

Hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching," the goal of the Milken Educator Awards is to celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it. The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. 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.

"At a time when STEM instructors are in high demand, Elizabeth Landes is a role model for mentoring others and inspiring future scientists," said Foley. "She is a masterful differentiator who works tirelessly to meet student needs across all levels of learning. I commend Elizabeth for her leadership and dedication, and proudly welcome her into the Milken Educator Network."

"Being selected to receive the Milken Educator Award is an impressive honor and demonstrates Ms. Landes' commitment to providing comprehensive science instruction to her students both in the classroom and outside of it," said Rivera. "In addition to teaching AP Environmental Science and several levels of biology, she voluntarily conducts tutoring sessions after school. As part of her lessons to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Ms. Landes goes the extra mile and takes students to a local hospital to observe live surgical procedures. On behalf of the Department of Education, we thank her for her outstanding work and serving as a role model for Pennsylvania's educators."

More About Elizabeth Landes

Results: Landes' class average on the 2019 AP biology exam was 4.3 out of 5, with approximately 62% scoring a 5. 

Leadership: Landes is known as a data-driven instructor, using formative and summative student achievement data to differentiate her lesson plans on a daily basis. She always asks to have underperforming students added to her schedule and voluntarily conducts tutoring and test preparation sessions after school. Landes works with other teachers on differentiation strategies, and secondary teachers across the district use her lesson plans as templates. She helps teachers take and pass Praxis tests and is helping the district incorporate the Performance Expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards. Landes runs MNHS' AP Science Summer Institute and has worked on technology, AP, grading and lab report revisions committees. She serves as a Delaware County Hi-Q faculty advisor and facilitates a virtual environmental science course through the Bridges Virtual Online Education Consortium.

Community: Creating a caring culture of service matters to Landes. For Earth Day, she works with high school students to bring relevant environmental science education to a nearby elementary school. Every year the sophomore class at MNHS works together on Products10, a service and unity project Landes developed several years ago. Collaborating with nonprofits including UNICEF, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, hunger relief organization Philabundance, charity: water, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the sophomore classes have raised more than $34,000 under Landes' guidance.

Education: Landes earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology in 2005, as well as a master's in education in 2006, from Villanova University.

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

More About the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”

The very 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.

Along with the $25,000 financial prize, 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 2019-20 honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis March 26-28, 2020, where they will network with their new colleagues and exchange ideas with state and federal leaders on the future of education. In addition, the Milken Educator Awards'  "Why Not Us" program will pair each 2019 recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor to explore and prepare for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy.

  • 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. 
  • The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators; this season honors secondary school teachers. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards 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. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 
  • The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on 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. Everyone is encouraged to watch the tour at,, and

For more information, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.