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Third-Grade Wichita Teacher Surprised with 2014-15 Milken Educator Award and $25,000 Cash

The “Oscar of Teaching” Kansas Recipient Uses Creativity to Spark a Love for Learning

February 03, 2015

SANTA MONICA, CA—It was obvious from third-grade teacher Amy Stanislowski’s expression that she had no idea she was going to be surprised with the prestigious Milken Educator Award and a $25,000 cash prize during a school assembly at Dodge Literacy Magnet School this afternoon. When her name was announced, students, staff and dignitaries erupted into cheers and applause.

Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Lowell Milken, together with Deputy Commissioner of the Kansas Department of Education Dale Dennis, delivered the news to the shocked young teacher.

Milken said Stanislowski embodies the qualities of a Milken Educator.

“Outstanding educators like Amy deserve to be celebrated for the honorable work they do,” said Milken. “She is a stand-out teacher who has made a commitment to grow, learn and incorporate the latest research-based strategies to the benefit of students as well as colleagues. She assures every child that they have the potential to be successful in life. And imagine, these are only a few of the reasons why she is a Milken Educator.”

One of education’s most prestigious recognitions, the Award comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000. Hailed by Teacher Magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” what separates this Award from others is that the recipients have no idea that they will be honored. This recognition is not a lifetime achievement award. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Encompassed in the recognition is the responsibility for those honored to stretch their professional practices and leadership to even higher levels.

As a teacher, Stanislowski has an endearing habit – each morning she welcomes each of her students with a hug. Her warmth is complemented by an ever-expanding portfolio of best practices including well-defined classroom expectations and data notebooks that chart student progress. Her students score well above state averages in reading and math.

In her efforts to tap in to every child’s skills and learning styles, Stanislowski implements creative strategies that spark a lifelong love of learning. Just one example is a “living museum” where students research and create displays about famous people, then write, memorize and deliver speeches about them – a high level of achievement for eight year olds.

In addition to being an innovator in the classroom and the third grade level chairperson, Stanislowski is a valuable mentor to fellow educators. When a new teacher at her school was struggling with classroom management skills, Stanislowski devoted a weekend to coaching her colleague. During the school day, she also took time during her planning periods to give the novice teacher immediate feedback.  She serves on the Wichita Quality Teacher Program Leadership Team and is the contact with Wichita State University to provide professional development to pre-service teachers. She also helps place mentor teachers and education students into teams.

Stanislowski instills a strong sense of community responsibility in her young charges. After a tornado damaged two schools, she hosted a movie day that raised funds to help the students in the affected schools. And when her class read a story about a little girl in Ghana, she inspired them to raise money to purchase a water buffalo for a family in that African nation. Given the challenging economic conditions of her own students, this was an empowering experience and a life lesson in individual potential.

“It is always an honor to recognize outstanding educators like Amy Stanislowski,” said Interim Kansas Education Commissioner Brad Neuenswander. “In Kansas, we are so fortunate to have educators like Amy who go above and beyond to ensure their students will be successful. I am grateful to the Milken Family Foundation for understanding the contributions made by educators in our nation and for providing us the opportunity to recognize those individuals in a very significant way.”

The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. The Award alternates yearly between elementary and secondary educators. They are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.

Along with the recognition typically bestowed to recipients, Stanislowski now belongs to a network of more than 2,600 K–12 teachers, principals and specialists from around the country. Past recipients have used their Awards to finance their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

Kansas joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1992. Since then, there have been 62 recipients in the state.

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For information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4775.  Like the Awards at, follow us at, watch the reaction videos at and find us on

The Milken Educator Awards program, created by the Milken Family Foundation, was 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.