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Milken Family Foundation Surprises Lodi High School Teacher with Prestigious $25,000 Award

Virginia Fasulo becomes third New Jersey teacher this season to be honored during coast-to-coast tour recognizing excellence and innovation in education 

October 13, 2023

LODI, N.J. Virginia Fasulo, a science teacher at Lodi High School, was surprised at a schoolwide assembly in front of cheering students, colleagues, dignitaries and the media today when she was presented with the prestigious Milken Educator Award. Bestowed by the Milken Family Foundation, the Award comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize and honors exceptional educators across the country for their innovation and excellence. Fasulo is the first-ever recipient from Lodi Public Schools. She joins Taylor Trost, a fourth grade teacher at Grace Norton Rogers Elementary (Hightstown), and Riley Gartland, a high school math teacher at Cinnaminson High School (Cinnaminson), who were surprised with the Award earlier this week.  

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley was joined by New Jersey Department of Education Assistant Commissioner Chris Irving to present the Award to Fasulo.  

"Virginia Fasulo's classroom is an exciting hub of discovery for Lodi High School's future medical professionals. Her expertise from the medical field is reflected in every learning strategy as she consistently ties technical operations to everyday situations," said Dr. Foley, who is a 1994 Milken Educator herself. "A heartfelt congratulations to Virginia for personifying the role of teacher, mentor and cheerleader to her students and colleagues every day. Welcome to the national Milken Educator Network!"  

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country this school year as part of the Milken Family Foundation's Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. This season will reach $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, empowering recipients to "Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate" the K-12 profession and inspiring young, capable people to pursue teaching as a career.  

"Congratulations to Virginia Fasulo, an exceptional educator at Lodi High School, on her Milken Educator Award," said Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan. "Virginia's passion for the medical profession has ignited remarkable career pathways for her students. With an innovative, hands-on approach, she transforms her classroom into a dynamic learning environment, fostering real-world connections. Virginia's dedication to her students' growth is inspiring, leading many to choose careers in healthcare. Her leadership of clubs and commitment to professional development make Virginia an invaluable asset to her school community." 
More About Virginia Fasulo  

Hands-On Learning Inspires Students' Career Choices: With a strong personal interest and background in the medical profession, Virginia Fasulo first began teaching through the American Cancer Society before moving into teaching in the classroom. Fasulo focuses on strengthening career pathways for her students at Lodi High School, with an emphasis on medicine, where she teaches 10th-12th graders Pre-Med Survey, Dynamics of Healthcare and AP Anatomy in the summer. Instrumental in creating the Pre-Med and Agriculture curriculum, Fasulo's students maintain a chicken habitat in an urban setting, which she takes care of during summers and holidays and uses to reinforce the connection between environment and animals. With a focus on hands-on, student-led and inquiry-based instruction, part of her classroom is set up as a hospital room with mannequins and 3D software to diagnose them, as well as exercise equipment for exercise science. She organizes various field trips for students, in person and over Zoom, to connect them with their potential career paths, including opportunities to observe surgeries, as well as CPR and Stop the Bleed emergency first-aid training. Students report choosing careers in these fields as a result of her influence.    

Investment in Students Goes Beyond the Classroom: Fasulo leads Lodi's biology and astrophysics clubs, a pre-med club, and a HOSA - Future Health Professionals chapter, all with increased participation under her guidance. She is deeply invested in helping students and her colleagues grow and flourish, as she leads department professional development and is active in the development of both curriculum and new teachers.    

Education: Fasulo earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany in 2006, a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from SUNY Albany School of Public Health in 2010, and a Master of Arts in teaching from William Paterson University in 2015.   

More about the Milken Educator Award Journey: "The Future Belongs to the Educated"  

  • The honorees attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in June 2024, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education.  
  • Honorees receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. Milken Friends Forever (MFF) pairs a new recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor; the Expanding MFF Resource and Explorer Program fosters individual veteran Milken Educator partnerships around a specific topic area; and Activating Milken Educators (AME) promotes group collaboration in and across states to tackle pressing educational needs. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels.  
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. Some recipients have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.    

Follow the Milken Educator Awards tour and use the #MEA3K and #MilkenAward hashtags on: Facebook (MilkenEducatorAwards) | X (Milken) | YouTube (MilkenAward) | Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn) | LinkedIn (MilkenFamilyFdn) | TikTok (MilkenAward).   

Visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772 for more information.  

About the Milken Educator Awards 
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken, 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 Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at