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Analyze This: Data-Driven Olathe Elementary School Principal Receives 2016-17 Milken Educator Award, $25,000 Cash Prize

Stephanie Conklin from Brougham Elementary Is Kansas' Sole Recipient

October 07, 2016

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — After planning for a visit from state and local leaders at Olathe's Brougham Elementary School, Principal Stephanie Conklin's week ended on a particularly sweet note today, as she discovered she had been organizing her own affair. Conklin became the newest recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which comes with a $25,000 cash prize. She is the sole recipient in Kansas this year.

The honor was presented to Conklin by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken, Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson, Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis, and District Superintendent Dr. Patricia All, praising Conklin's work before cheering students, respected colleagues, distinguished officials and the media.

Conklin is among up to only 35 educators who will be presented with the Award during the Milken Family Foundation's (MFF) cross-country tour. This season marks the 30th year of the Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching."

"The educational outcomes that Stephanie Conklin has helped to drive at Brougham Elementary School are outstanding and a true example of the leadership that's needed to ensure children's success," said Lowell Milken. "Staff, students and parents rise to the expectations and well-articulated goals she establishes, creating a strong and vibrant learning community."

"Stephanie Conklin is a great example of Kansas' outstanding principals," said Watson. "It's an honor to recognize her. She dedicates so much of her time to her students and helps prepare them for the future. I want to thank the Milken Family Foundation for providing us the opportunity to recognize some of Kansas' finest educators and administrators."

"Stephanie is a principal that is dedicated to achieving great outcomes in learning for her students," said All. "She uses student performance data to make educational decisions and is an outstanding leader who works closely with staff, parents and the community to bring out the best in her students. We are incredibly proud of her for this well-deserved honor."

Brougham Elementary's students are thriving under Conklin's leadership. In the spring of 2016, the school's third- through fifth-graders beat both district and state averages in reading and math, scoring at least five points higher than the district average and six to 10 points higher than the state average. The school exceeded projected growth scores in all grades and consistently ranks in the top five of the district's 35 elementary schools.

Conklin takes a "more is better" approach to data. When she wanted additional information about student performance in math, Conklin volunteered Brougham Elementary as a pilot school for the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments. After seeing the first round of data, she decided to test a new guided math approach, similar to one that had boosted student performance in reading. Brougham now offers multiple schoolwide math and reading programs, which are often celebrated with all-school parties and assemblies.

Conklin has worked with her staff to create a shared vision for student excellence and develop highly effective Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that work to meet the diverse needs of all students. Each grade level posts weekly and monthly goals plus a long-range plan, all focused on integration and targeted standards.

Conklin strives to visit every classroom every day, knows each student by name, and has created an environment where students want to be at school to learn, which shows in the school's well-above-average attendance. She is committed to embedding parents into the school and holds frequent meetings and "coffee with the principal" events and has created a strong parent-teacher organization that supports educational efforts as well as fun. Brougham parents read, tutor and help teachers in the classroom daily.

A leader within the district, Conklin serves as one of four principals on the district's Elementary Professional Development Planning Committee. She meets monthly with the superintendent and a small group of district principals to problem-solve and plan at the district level and mentors new principals in the district. Conklin advocates for students both inside the district and statewide and is a strong supporter of universal access to no-cost preschool and full-day kindergarten.

Conklin holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Fort Hays State University and a master's degree in educational leadership and policy studies from the University of Kansas.

More information about Conklin, along with photos and a video from today's award 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, Conklin's honor includes membership in the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top principals, teachers and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards program, 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 Awards has no formal nomination or application process. 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 Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. 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.

Lynne Russo
(818) 903-6079 cell;
Jana Rausch
Director of Media and Public Affairs
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell