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Yorktown Teacher Celebrates this Teacher Appreciation Week with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Coventry Elementary School's Taylor Goodson marks second recipient in Virginia, among 60 nationwide 

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

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona says Milken Educators "personify excellence in education"

May 04, 2022

YORKTOWN, Va. — This Teacher Appreciation Week one teacher in Yorktown received the surprise of a lifetime—a $25,000 Milken Educator Award presented by the Milken Family Foundation during a schoolwide assembly with cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials and media. Taylor Goodson, a third grade teacher at Coventry Elementary School, was recognized for her innovation in strengthening student literacy and her exceptional ability to inspire, motivate and engage her students. As Virginia's second award recipient this season, she joins Kimberly Collins of Virginia Beach, who was surprised yesterday at Virginia Beach Middle School. 

"I am thrilled to welcome another Milken Educator from Virginia, as this state holds a special place in my heart," said Stephanie Bishop, vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 2001 Virginia Milken Educator. "Taylor Goodson's dedication to increasing literacy, willingness to assist and mentor students and colleagues, and adaptability to meet student needs are just some of the characteristics that make her a model to follow. We welcome Taylor to our national Milken Educator Network and look forward to her contributions." 

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. 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. 

"Taylor makes a difference in the lives of her students every day and I can't think of a better way to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week than to join her and her entire school community to celebrate this well-deserved recognition from the Milken Family Foundation," Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. "Taylor epitomizes all of the Virginia teachers we celebrate this week in her dedication to her students and in her commitment to academic excellence." 

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year's recipients in a video message thanking "the most incredible educators around the country" and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the "tireless work" they do. U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said Milken Educators "personify excellence in education" and "inspire leadership and motivate students to excel." 

More About Taylor Goodson 

Achievement through Critical Thinking: Goodson is able to challenge and engage every student in her class using higher-order thinking questions and differentiation to meet their needs. She is adept at providing assistance to those who need it, and deeper learning activities for students who have mastered content. The modeling and scaffolding Goodson incorporates into each lesson provide an access point for every student, no matter their background or foundational knowledge. She uses formative and summative assessment data to guide her instruction and models questioning techniques using Bloom's taxonomy. As a result of her efforts, Goodson's students shine in her classroom. To deepen her practice, Goodson seeks out professional learning opportunities and explores new research-based strategies for her classroom. 

Professional Learning and Leadership: Goodson leads the third grade team and its professional learning community. In addition to her role helping to drive professional development and mentor colleagues, she personally seeks out professional learning opportunities and research-based strategies for her classroom. She sits on Coventry's PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) team and is a Student Council Association sponsor. Goodson helped the district select a new assessment platform, represented Coventry at the division's Leadership Academy and serves in the division's teacher leader cohort. She is a fluency instructional trainer for Coventry and has led training on professional learning communities and effective implementation of the division's elementary literacy model. She developed Coventry's grade-level curriculum for both third and fifth grades. When she modeled Book Talks for the school, students got so excited about reading that the third grade had to buy more books to satisfy the young learners. 

Additional Supports: When school closed in spring 2020, Coventry did not yet have a one-to-one technology program, so Goodson took initiative to create and distribute learning packets for all students through the end of the school year. A fierce advocate and role model for students and teachers alike, Goodson prioritizes social emotional learning and partnered with the school counselor to incorporate mindfulness activities, movement breaks and brain science into her classroom. 

Education: Goodson earned a Bachelor of Science in 2012 and a master's in education in 2017 from Lynchburg College.

More About the Milken Educator Awards: "The future belongs to the educated."

Along with the $25,000 financial prize, 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 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