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Portland Area Teacher Surprised with Milken Educator Award and $25,000 in Cash

Michaela Lamarre is the Only Teacher to Win the Prestigious Prize in Maine

December 10, 2015

SANTA MONICA, CA — On Thursday morning, Michaela Lamarre, an 8th grade teacher at Saco Middle School led her class into a school assembly with no idea that all the fuss – the state commissioner, mysterious guests, visiting dignitaries and the TV cameras – were there for her.

Minutes later, she was surprised with a Milken Educator Award and a $25,000 check.

She is the only teacher in Maine this season to win the Award, and among up to only 40 educators nationally who will receive the prestigious honor during the Milken Family Foundation’s coast-to-coast tour. The foundation has been rewarding outstanding elementary and secondary educators with the Award since 1987.

In a school gym filled with cheering students, respected colleagues, distinguished officials and the media, Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, and Dr. William Beardsley, acting education commissioner, presented Lamarre with the distinctive navy blue envelope during the event.

In his congratulatory remarks, Beardsley said, “An honor from the Milken Family Foundation is symbolic of Ms. Lamarre’s role and passion for education. Through innovative ideas and teaching practices, Ms. Lamarre enriches students’ learning every day while serving as a role model for her peers. Congratulations Ms. Lamarre on behalf of the State of Maine and thank you for your dedication and commitment.”

“Michaela is always on top of her game,” said Foley. “She is a good example of the kind of teacher who has a firm grasp of content knowledge and can lead other science teachers through curriculum mapping of national science standards using her natural leadership abilities. Her motivation and integrity shine thoroughly for all to see. We are proud to have her join our team of Milken Educators.”  

There are a number of reasons why Lamarre is considered a “go-to” science person among the 12 STEM teachers at Saco Middle School. She is personable, approachable and her knowledge and work ethic speak volumes. Her attention to detail, precision and perseverance are evident in all she does. Oftentimes an educator like that comes along only once in a lifetime for students and for educators lucky enough to call her their colleague.

Lamarre researches the most engaging approaches, is technologically savvy, and addresses not only the academic needs of her students, but the social and emotional as well. Parents ask for her as the teacher for their children. Always on top of her game, the STEM-loving teacher is known to go above and beyond her job.

As an instructor, she is adept at fostering critical thinking in her students by always asking them why and to explain their answers. She was among a group of teachers who created an after-school opportunity for students to attend a remote operated underwater vehicle (ROV) demo in the community. This inspired students to successfully build their own robots. 

Lamarre is so dedicated that she worked through her maternity leave with other science teachers in order to develop curriculum based upon new standards. Her test data has also shown steady gains. Thanks to Lamarre’s lead and guidance, the school had the Next Generation Science Standards in place and ready about a year before the state mandated it.

Colleagues say that when Lamarre raises her hand in a staff meeting, you know there will be an insightful and positive statement made. She also leads professional development at the district level.

She received a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, science, from the University of Maine at Farmington in 2004 and a Master of Education in educational leadership from the University of New England in 2010.

The Milken Educator Awards program has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees. Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Awards are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.

This year, MFF launched a #MyTeacherRocks Instagram campaign that encourages students to take selfies with their favorite teacher and describe in the caption why their teacher is special. To enter the contest, entrants are asked to follow @MilkenFamilyFdn on Instagram, post their selfie to their individual account and use the #MyTeacherRocks and #MilkenAward hashtags. The three photos with the most “likes” will be selected in February and April 2016. The first winner was selected in November 2015.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at;;; and

The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, were launched 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.