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Montgomery Principal Surprised with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Dr. Bryan Cutter among up to 40 recipients nationwide to be recognized for excellence in education and outstanding leadership

October 19, 2022

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The schoolwide assembly Dalraida Elementary Principal Dr. Bryan Cutter helped organize took a surprising turn when he became the guest of honor. Cutter received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award given by the Milken Family Foundation – a fitting way to celebrate National Principals Month. Cutter was recognized for his innovative leadership style and implementation of technology throughout the school, where he helped establish the first STEM lab of the region at the elementary level after just one year as principal. 

The Awards will honor up to 40 elementary educators in the 2022-2023 school year. Over the past 35 years, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers.  

"Successful students thrive with successful educators, and Dr. Bryan Cutter epitomizes effective and creative leadership," said Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. "As a former student in Montgomery Public Schools himself, Bryan acutely understands the unique challenges within the community. His knowledge and experiences guide him to make positive ripples in the lives of his students. I am excited to welcome Bryan into our Milken Educator Network, where he will have opportunities to make lasting connections and broaden his impact on the teaching profession." 

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year’s winners’ list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced. 

"Today's announcement is a great opportunity to celebrate the field of education overall," said Alabama State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey. "Dr. Cutter and his team at Dalraida Elementary School are an excellent example of the good work occurring in schools and classrooms across Alabama every day. The level of commitment and excellence exhibited here is invaluable, but it is not unique. Educators and administrators statewide are going the extra mile to create safe environments that are conducive to learning," Mackey said. "Milken's recognition of Dr. Cutter is a testament to his leadership as a principal and his ability to help increase academic achievement for the students he serves." 

More About Bryan Cutter 

Creating a Vision for Teacher and Student Success: After joining Dalraida just one year into the pandemic, Cutter assisted in the implementation of a new STEM lab, which was the first for elementary students in Montgomery Public Schools and the River Region. The nontraditional classroom experience provides students the opportunity to learn through hands-on play and allows teachers to implement best practices. STEM permeates every class and content area at Dalraida due to Cutter's vision. Robotics and other activities give students early exposure to STEM careers where they build collaboration and teamwork skills. It is his hope that this unique, fun learning environment will in turn produce future engineers, scientists and mathematicians. Cutter ensures that all around him excel by engaging and inspiring students and colleagues to reach beyond expectations and focus on providing exceptional instruction. He established grade-level professional learning communities, coaches and evaluates teachers to support their professional growth, designed a schoolwide teacher mentor program, and uses data to drive instruction, identifying trends of success and areas of need. 

Building Relationships: A former student in Montgomery Public Schools himself, Cutter believes that building children's confidence can change their lives. He is known as an excellent communicator who engages parents as partners in their children's education. 

Broaden Impact on School and Community: Cutter previously served as an elementary and middle school assistant principal, summer school principal, CTE director and music teacher. As a choral director, he passed on his passion for music to students as he led them to city and state recognition, frequent community performances and national competitions. He's also facilitated after-school reading and math programs and presented at state, national and international conferences on topics including student engagement, rigor and relevance, school culture and discipline. Throughout his career, Cutter has mentored young men, helping them make better life decisions, focus on academics and athletics, and become productive members of the community. 

Education: Cutter earned a bachelor's in music education in 2009 from Alabama State University; education specialist and master's degrees in music education in 2011 and 2013, respectively from Auburn University; a master's in instructional leadership in 2014 from Alabama State University; and a Ph.D. in educational leadership, policy and law in 2019 from Alabama State University. He wrote his dissertation on middle school discipline policies and procedures in Alabama's "Black Belt."

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

Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 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 honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. 
  • In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFF) mentoring program, in which new Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • "We find you. You don't find us!" Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative 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. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.   

To receive regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the Award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).  

For more information, visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772. 

About the Milken Educator Awards
The 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. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at