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Up to 40 Remarkable Teachers in the U.S. Will Receive a Milken Educator Award and $25,000 Cash

The Milken Family Foundation Has Been Surprising and Rewarding Outstanding
Educators Across the Nation with the “Oscars of Teaching” Since 1987


September 24, 2014

SANTA MONICA, CA — In up to 40 schools across the country, exemplary elementary school teachers are in for a surprise of a lifetime when they learn—in front of their entire school and community—that they have been selected as a 2014 Milken Educator Award recipient. The honor, described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine, comes with an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000.

Students with Rachel Willis

Students hug and congratulate Rachel Willis, GA '10.

“We’ve been presenting these awards for almost 30 years because we believe—and the research proves it—that educators represent the most important school-based factor in raising student achievement,” said Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation (MFF).

“The very public nature of each surprise notification, and the excitement as students see their teacher celebrated as an inspiring role model, influences young people to consider teaching as a worthy career option.”

Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prestigious posts and on state and national education committees.

New recipients are invited to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of distinguished educators coast-to-coast whose expertise serves as a valuable resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education.

Mark Julien, who received the Award in 2013, teaches AP English literature and composition, Honors English and 10th-grade English, at Henry Ford II High School in Sterling Heights, Michigan. When his name was announced by Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 1994 Milken Educator recipient originally from Indiana, the popular varsity baseball assistant coach’s face expressed shock. He said he was “humbled.”

“I’m here, the product of a working class family, first-generation in college, because of great teachers,” he said in an interview. “We’re trying to offer the same opportunities for a better future for our kids. I think if the American Dream is alive, it’s in schools.”

Since first presented to a dozen California teachers, the program has grown to become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program having honored more than 2,600 K–12 teachers, principals and specialists. More than $137 million in funding, including over $65 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. 

Student reactions to announcement

Student reactions at William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary during a notification.

Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the 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.

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.

To get regular updates on notifications, follow the #TeachForTheStars hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call MFF at (310) 570-4775.  Follow the Awards at www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards, www.twitter.com/milken, and www.youtube.com/milkenaward.

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)