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Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Welcomes First Week of 2023 Fellows to Fort Scott, Kansas

Educators will collaborate in project-based learning to discover, develop and communicate stories of Unsung Heroes from history

June 18, 2023

FORT SCOTT, Kan. – The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes, an international educational nonprofit in Fort Scott, Kansas, has awarded its prestigious Fellowship to 12 educators from Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Ukraine. The Fellowship is divided into two cohorts, with six educators collaborating with LMC staff this week and six arriving next week. 

The LMC Fellowship is a merit-based award for educators of all disciplines who value the importance of teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning. LMC selects exemplary teachers from the U.S. and around the world who will collaborate on projects that discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history. 

The six extraordinary LMC Fellows in Week 1, beginning June 18, are:

Darrion Cockrell, a PE teacher who is lovingly called Mr. DC by his elementary students, is the 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year, with the added distinction of being Missouri's first Black Male Educator of the Year. Additionally, he was honored to receive the 2020 National Box Tops for Education Twilight Award. Having taught at Crestwood Elementary since 2015, Darrion has been an inspiration and role model to his students and fellow staff. His innovative and creative programs include "Crest-Fit" training, a health and fitness program for students with teacher and parent involvement. Building personal relationships with his students and sharing his own life's story have helped Darrion motivate and connect with each of his students. When students hear of Darrion's difficult years as a foster child and gang member and see his current success as a caring teacher and loving husband and dad, they learn that they, too, have the opportunity to overcome the challenges they may face in life.

Kevin Dailey, a middle school history teacher at Ballyshannon Middle School, is a 2021 Milken Educator from Kentucky. He is known by colleagues for his unwavering support for students, combined with all he gives back to the community while instilling the importance of being good citizens. Kevin advocates for all students through his emphasis on fact-based instruction and equity in education. His emphasis on writing, speaking, listening and reading skills in his classroom help his students recognize the importance of those skills for future academic, personal and professional success. He collaborates with a science colleague for a project-based learning program called Project Citizen, which teaches students about public policy and helps them understand how they can work with community and government leaders to make change possible. Students leave his classroom with a strong foundation that sets them up for positive experiences in high school. 

Chris Dier was named the 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, a 2020 National Teacher of the Year Finalist, and the 2021 Louisiana History Teacher of the Year. He currently teaches social studies at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, and previously taught for 10 years in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Chris is passionate about providing an equitable and multicultural education to all of his students. He has been featured in numerous publications and outlets which recognized his work in the classroom, and as a Hollyhock Fellow at Stanford University, he was part of a program that brought educators together to create more inclusive classrooms. Based on much research, Chris authored the book, "The 1868 St. Bernard Parish Massacre: Blood in the Cane Fields". He often uses it to help his students understand complex historical events and learn from them in an effort to continue to bridge racial divides. 

Amy Page, a high school history teacher in Moriarty, New Mexico, is the 2022 Patricia Behring National History Day Teacher of the Year. She also received New Mexico's 2020 History Teacher of the Year Award by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and was named to the prestigious James Madison Fellowship. Her focus on teaching students the importance of using primary sources in their research played an important role in her receiving these awards. Amy's emphasis on project-based learning and her experience with National History Day have led to engaging students in historical learning. Her creative use of primary sources and implementation of active learning strategies have helped foster historical thinking skills within her students. Amy celebrates every victory along the way for her students, whether it is finding a much-sought-after primary source or winning a national award. 

Lacy Rivera, a 6th grade teacher at Sundance Elementary in Los Lunas, New Mexico, is the 2019 New Mexico Milken Educator. Her previous experience included teaching high school English and serving as a professional learning coach. The relationships she built with teachers and students helped strengthen her collaborative skills with colleagues, as well as her own teaching skills, when she made the transition back to the classroom at Sundance Elementary. Working with curriculum is one of Lacy's strengths, enabling her to engage in critical ideas of learning while encouraging students to look at society and define their roles within it. With Lacy's guidance, students learn to analyze critically and express themselves powerfully. Lacy will be moving to 4th grade this fall, hoping to reinforce her belief that elementary students can be empowered through stories, especially stories of the past, which embolden them to take action today and envision a brighter future for tomorrow. 

Heather Whitaker, an alternative education teacher at Gorham Middle School in Gorham, Maine, is the 2020 Maine Teacher of the Year. She started her school's garden, which donates 1,000 pounds of produce for the local food pantry each year. She was also a founding member of the Gorham Backpack program, which provides food for chronically hungry students in the community. Heather's alternative education students actively volunteer in both programs. By promoting the combination of learning opportunities with community needs, Heather provides real-life experiences for her students. As a strong advocate for struggling students, she uses restorative practices to design meaningful projects for her students, which leads to powerful learning experiences.

While in Fort Scott, LMC Fellows gain knowledge, educational resources and support in helping students cultivate a passion for learning through the creation of projects that initiate positive change. Fellows will be equipped to develop Unsung Heroes projects with their students, applying and evaluating the stories of these role models who have changed the world throughout history.

About LMC
The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes works with students and educators across diverse academic disciplines to develop history projects that highlight role models who demonstrate courage, compassion and respect. Through a unique project-based learning approach, students discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive impact on the course of history. By championing these Unsung Heroes, students, educators and communities discover their own power and responsibility to effect positive change in the world. For more information, visit

Jana Rausch, Vice President, Communications
Milken Family Foundation
(310) 570-4774 office
(310) 435-9259 mobile