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Frederick, Maryland Teacher Surprised with Milken Educator Award and $25,000 Cash

The 2014-15 “Oscar of Teaching” Recipient Makes Certain Her First-Graders Thrive


January 28, 2015

SANTA MONICA, CA —When teacher Maggie Hawk walked into the school assembly with her first grade class, she had no idea she was walking into her own party as the guest of honor. Minutes later, the Yellow Springs Elementary School teacher was shocked when, in the midst of students, teachers, staff and assembled dignitaries, she heard her name announced as the Maryland recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken, together with Milken Family Foundation Trustee Lori Milken and Dr. Jack R. Smith, Maryland Deputy State Superintendent for Teaching & Learning and Chief Academic Officer, delivered the news to the flabbergasted young teacher.

Mike Milken said Hawk embodies the qualities of a Milken Educator.

"When Maggie Hawk says all students can and will learn, she is speaking from personal experience," said Milken. "As a child who struggled with learning issues, she learned from her own teachers how to overcome challenges and blossom into the outstanding educator she is today. She helps students with severe disabilities overcome their challenges to make significant progress in the classroom. All her students know how much she cares.”

Smith made the comment that Hawk is the quintessential elementary school teacher, using any means necessary to make certain her first graders thrive and succeed.

“Mrs. Hawk builds a foundation for learning at Yellow Springs Elementary,” Smith said. “From that foundation, the students can do anything they put their minds to.”

As a first-grade teacher, Hawk has built an ideal learning environment by combining solid data, effective use of technology and a collaborative teaching approach combined with an unflagging work ethic and a commitment to connect with each student. Students with academic or behavioral difficulties routinely blossom in her class, and every student exceeds the high expectations set for them.

Whether co-teaching with other specialists to meet student IEP needs or supporting students who already excel to greater heights, Hawk’s students consistently leave her class above grade-level in core subjects, confident and ready to learn more. Hawk is committed to using technology and the widest variety of traditional and innovative learning techniques to help each student deeply understand the material.

It’s not uncommon to hear students saying they want to grow up and become a teacher “just like Mrs. Hawk!” It’s also not unusual for students in her classroom to applaud the success of their peers. This behavior does not come naturally. Teaching life’s lessons is second nature to this dedicated teacher.

And if you ask around, it seems like everyone has a “Mrs. Hawk story” which relates to her care and attention in support of student learning. There was the student whose mother was deployed to Iraq. Maggie created a video of the child in the classroom and mailed it overseas. There were the students with severe disabilities who overcame their challenges to make significant academic progress. There’s the student she’s mentored for years and who lives with an elderly great-grandmother.

She takes turns joining each student in the class for lunch to get to know the “whole person.” Her warmth and fortitude provide valuable life lessons that profoundly reinforce the academic curriculum for the entire class, a collaborative learning community that supports and celebrates together through challenges and successes.

Hawk, who had been a student at Yellow Springs, graduated from Randolph Macon College. Learning did not come easy for her as a child due to struggles with dyslexia, a developmental reading disorder. Hawk overcame her challenges and became a good student through hard work, determination, and the support of her family and teachers.

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. The award comes with an unrestricted financial prize of $25,000 and alternates yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Milken 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.

Along with the fanfare and recognition, Hawk now belongs to the Milken Educator 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.

Maryland joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1993. Since then, there have been 59 recipients in the state.

To get regular updates on notifications, follow the #TeachForTheStars and #MilkenAward hashtags on Twitter and Instagram.

For information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/newsroom/media-kit or call MFF at (310) 570-4775.  Like the Awards at www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards, follow us at www.twitter.com/milken, watch the reaction videos at www.youtube.com/milkenaward and find us on http://instagram.com/milkenfamilyfdn.

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.

Ana Beatriz Cholo
Media Relations Manager
310-570-4773 (Office) 312-927-4845 (Cell)