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Lowell Milken Completes Louisiana Tour with $25,000 Milken Educator Award Surprise in Destrehan

Sixth grade science teacher Lauren Waguespack honored with the "Oscar of Teaching" at Harry Hurst Middle School

February 7, 2024

Santa Monica, Calif.  — During a lively school assembly at Harry Hurst Middle School in Louisiana's St. Charles Parish, Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken today surprised sixth grade science teacher Lauren Waguespack (pronounced "Wag-us-pack") with the state's fourth and final 2023-24 Milken Educator Award. The recognition comes with a $25,000 cash prize that Waguespack can use for any purpose. State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley joined to celebrate Waguespack as a model for the state and nation.

"Lauren Waguespack powerfully demonstrates that outstanding educators are lifelong learners," said Lowell Milken. "We commend her for creating an engaging environment for students to thrive and for pursuing leadership opportunities that advance her practice and amplify her impact on teaching and learning. Lauren's dedication and compassion are making lasting impressions on the lives of her students, colleagues, and families."

In addition to today's celebration, Waguespack becomes a member of the prestigious Milken Educator network, a national group of exceptional professionals working to "Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate" the K-12 profession. She joins Christine Bayard of Johnston-Hopkins Elementary School in the Iberia Parish School District, Derrick Winn of Crestworth Elementary School in the East Baton Rouge Public School System, and Kelly Ryan of Northshore High School in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System, who all received their Award this week.

"Through her innovative teaching methods and profound commitment to student achievement, Ms. Waguespack's impact resonates inside her classroom and throughout her state," said Dr. Brumley. "Her hands-on approach to science takes students on a journey that helps prepare them for success after graduation."

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," the Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation’s Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. 2023-24 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.

Waguespack was completely unaware of her candidacy for the Award. Recipients are sought out while early to mid-career for what they have achieved – and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities afforded by the Award.

More About Lauren Waguespack

Making a Collective Impact: Lauren Waguespack is a visionary force for education at Harry Hurst Middle School. Whether it is in her sixth grade science classroom, coaching the school's dance team, or leading the district's professional development opportunities, Waguespack's enthusiasm for teaching has left its mark on nearly every corner of this Louisiana community. Former students often visit her during their lunch periods and parents remain connected with her long after their students had her as a teacher. 

Yielding Consistent Results: In her classroom, Waguespack goes beyond conventional teaching methods to prepare her students for future success in STEM, creating an environment where learning becomes a captivating journey. When the class studied Newton's Laws of Motion, she developed a Mars Rover Landing Project, and when the class began learning about pitch, frequency and wavelength, she incorporated audio and visual formats to enable students to better grasp the material. The efforts have paid off: Waguespack's students receive high marks on the state science assessment, motivating them to attain even higher levels of achievement. 

Leading the Pack: Waguespack's influence extends far beyond the classroom, shaping her into a strong teacher leader and community advocate. Waguespack is often filmed by the school district during her classroom instruction to help other teachers learn from her practices. She is involved in nearly every committee on campus – chairing the School Improvement Team, leading the sixth grade teacher faculty, serving as Technology Site Coordinator, mentoring new teachers and facilitating new teacher orientation at Harry Hurst Middle School, as well as volunteering as a state Teacher Leader Advisor. 

Education: A graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Waguespack earned a Bachelor of Science in education in 2010 and a Master of Education in educational leadership in 2021. 

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 this June, 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 philanthropist and education visionary 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