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Prestigious $25,000 Milken Educator Award Goes to Manhattan Educator

Library and media specialist Megan Morgan honored as one of nation's top teachers

Oprah Winfrey congratulates Milken Educators in heartwarming video message as 'light in this world'

April 26, 2022

Manhattan, KS — In a surprise assembly today, Megan Morgan, a library and media specialist at Oliver Brown Elementary School, received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for her work as an enthusiastic advocate for reading and literacy and her leadership in the community. Thanks to Morgan, she successfully brought in millions of dollars in grant funding for the school, enabling them to purchase thousands of books for children in need in their district, a school therapy dog who resides in the library and serves students' social-emotional learning needs, and a program to connect students with deployed military parents via Skype. 

Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop, joined by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson, surprised Morgan with the honor before cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials, and the media. Morgan is one of only two educators in Kansas and among more than 60 nationwide to be recognized with the Award during the 2021-2022 school year. Earlier today, high school science teacher Ryan Pfeifer of Washburn Rural High School in Topeka received the distinction. 

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Milken Educator Awards celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it. 

"Megan Morgan brings the joy of reading and exploring the world through the pages of a book to life for all of her students," said Bishop, who herself is a 2001 Milken Educator from Virginia. "Her enthusiasm for learning through literacy is evident everywhere, from the corners of the library to the classrooms throughout the school, and for this, we celebrate her as our newest Milken Educator." 

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. 

"The level of energy Megan brings not only to her young learners, but to the profession overall, is so inspiring," said Commissioner Watson. "Her natural tendency to lead and collaborate with her peers translates into her students regularly demonstrating high levels of growth." 

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year's winners in a video message shared earlier this year thanking "the most incredible educators around the country" and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the "tireless work" they do. 

More about Megan Morgan 

Dedicated Student Librarian: Morgan recently joined the education team at Oliver Brown Elementary School where she serves as a library media specialist. Prior to her position at this school, Morgan transformed the library at Ogden Elementary School in Ogden, Kansas, into the hub of student life and learning. As library and media specialist at Ogden Elementary School, Morgan taught every student, every week, from pre-K to sixth grade. 

Committed to Student Learning: The former second grade teacher seamlessly integrated both library and content standards into her instruction, supporting students as they tackled projects involving research, writing and presentation skills. Morgan collaborated with every classroom teacher to reinforce their instruction and maximize learning. She went to great lengths to help Ogden's young learners hone their skills, teaching intervention groups daily and leading an after-school program to remediate math and reading skills. Ogden students routinely demonstrate among the highest growth scores on district formative assessments. 

Leader in her Community: Morgan took on numerous leadership roles at Ogden Elementary and within the district, including lead ELA teacher, volunteer coordinator and PTO president. She chaired the student intervention team, served as a district co-teaching coach, and mentored first- and second-year teachers. Morgan worked on the hiring and bullying prevention teams and chaired multiple committees for the school's Family Night events. 

Enthusiastic Advocate for Reading: An avid reader herself, Morgan is constantly looking for ways to get books into the hands of her students and their families. During Ogden Elementary's literacy nights, Morgan placed hundreds of books out, carefully selected to appeal to the interests of students, siblings, parents and caregivers. The reading games and activities she led during the events were designed to bring Ogden's families closer and support them as they helped their children achieve their learning goals. 

Education: Morgan earned a bachelor's in elementary education in 2008 and a master's in special education in 2010 from Kansas State University, as well as a master's in library science in 2017 from Emporia State University. 

More information about Morgan, 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."

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award 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.

  • In June, 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 (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman 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.
  • 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. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in 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 get 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

Press Contact:

Jana Rausch
Vice President, Communications
310-570-4774 Office 310-435-9259 Cell