Virginia High School Math Teacher Walks Out of a School Assembly a Milken Educator and $25,000 Richer
March 3, 2016
SANTA MONICA, CA — Much like her colleagues at C.D. Hylton Senior High School, math teacher Lauren Anne Wilson thought the focus of the schoolwide afternoon assembly was to celebrate the school’s 25 years of success. Little did she know that the real purpose of the gathering was to celebrate her.
Wilson received the surprise of her lifetime before students, colleagues, media and distinguished officials Wednesday morning when her name was called out by Mike Milken, co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, as the final Milken Educator Award recipient for the 2015-16 Awards season. The Award includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000.
MFF has been rewarding outstanding elementary and secondary educators with the Award since 1987. Wilson is the 42nd recipient in Virginia since the program was implemented in that state in 1999.
“Lauren’s career exemplifies caring, leadership and initiative,” Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Steven R. Staples said. “She is a continuous learner and motivator, researching and implementing innovative practices that help students excel while sharing her knowledge, wisdom and friendship with teachers just entering the field.”
At Hylton, Wilson takes every opportunity to empower students, increase their knowledge, and help them find their own love for mathematics. She is able to reach math students across the spectrum of aptitude and ability.
For example, during the 2011-12 school year, she and her colleagues earned the highest pass rate (when compared to other Prince William County high schools) for students enrolled in Algebra I Double Block. Students in this class are the most at-risk with a history of low math scores in the classroom and on standardized tests. By 2013-14, the pass rate in the class increased by more than 20 percentage points. Her student’s scores directly impacted Hylton’s pass rate to be the highest in the county when compared to other schools offering this class.
“Lauren’s students demonstrate exemplary educational achievements,” said Milken. “As the lead mentor at Hylton High, she works with new teachers while coaching and supporting other mentors. We warmly welcome her into the Milken Educator family.”
As another testament to Wilson’s teaching prowess, enrollment in AP Calculus doubled to 31 students and every single student passed the class. The AP pass rate increased from 35% to 85% in one year after she started teaching AP — a notable feat. Her students passed the exam with a mean score of 4.45, higher than the national average of 3.89, the state average of 3.81 and the district average of 3.72.
Wilson, whose mother was also a teacher, graduated from Hylton and has taught there for 14 years.
“Ms. Wilson’s talent and determination are delivering great returns for the students and staff at Hylton,” said Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Walts. “We are tremendously proud of what she’s accomplished and that she is now the seventh Prince William County Public Schools teacher to receive the Milken award. Few other school systems have such an illustrious team.”
Early in her career, Wilson took on a leadership position and is now considered “the voice of the teachers” and a “go-to” person at the school. She is well-known throughout the district and conducted a workshop for math professional development after only three years in the district. Due to her promotion of the co-teaching model, the school has been selected as a demonstration site by the Virginia Department of Education Excellence in Co-Teaching initiative.
As a result of her leadership, she became the lead mentor at Hylton. She meets regularly with her mentees to offer guidance and constructive feedback. She plans, organizes and presents at monthly meetings to provide continuous support to teachers, which has translated to engaging classrooms where students are challenged and succeeding academically.
She is the school’s volleyball and soccer coach. To help incoming freshman girls get acclimated to their new school, she created a summer volleyball program. Other high schools in the area have since incorporated this into their programming.
So parents could become better informed about the AP math courses offered at the school, Wilson led a math articulation meeting where parents learned firsthand about the expectations and outcomes for each course.
She graduated from the University of Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics in 2001. She earned her Master of Education in 2004 from the University of Mary Washington.
The Milken Educator Awards program has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. 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 prominent posts and on state and national education committees.
Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the 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.
In addition to participation in the 2,600-strong national Milken Educator Network, 2015-16 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans later this month. Milken Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal leaders about the importance of amplifying teacher voices to advance educator effectiveness.
This year, MFF launched a #MyTeacherRocks Instagram campaign that encourages students to take selfies with their favorite teacher and describe in the caption why their teacher is special. To enter the contest, entrants are asked to follow @MilkenFamilyFdn on Instagram, post their selfie to their individual account and use the #MyTeacherRocks and #MilkenAward hashtags. The second of the three winners was selected in February 2016. The third winner will be selected in April 2016.
To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.
The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, were 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.