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Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Welcomes Second Week of 2022 Fellows to Fort Scott, Kansas

Exceptional educators from across the country selected for prestigious fellowship

June 27, 2022

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 11 educators from Alabama, California, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Amersfoort, Netherlands. This week, the second cohort of five 2022 Fellows will enjoy collaboration with LMC staff in Fort Scott. 

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 to explore in depth how to create projects that discover, develop and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history. 

LMC will welcome these five extraordinary educators this week:

Trysta Asche, an 8th-12th grade Language Arts Instructor for Loup City Public Schools in Loup City, Nebraska. Asche was honored in 2020 with a national fellowship to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and her involvement with Holocaust education and the National History Day competition has provided her students with valuable experiences. With degrees in Language Arts and Instructional Technology, experience as a Language Arts instructor and Library Media Specialist, along with a vast array of certifications and leadership training, Asche is able to share a wealth of knowledge with both her students and fellow educators.

Bonnie Garrett, a veteran middle school PLTW/STEAM master teacher at Morris Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama, was a 2007 Alabama Milken Educator. Garrett has been involved with various educational programs, such as the University of Minnesota's Institute for Global Studies, which developed Exceptional Virtual Lessons with Global Content as an educator resource for different subject areas. In 2017, she was selected as an NEA Foundation Global Fellow and traveled with a cohort of educators to Beijing and Xi'an, where they learned about China's education system through meetings with policymakers and business and nonprofit leaders and visited schools to meet teachers, students, and administrators. Bonnie also coaches her school's Robotics and Greenpower USA teams, serves as the president of the Huntsville Education Association, and facilitates nationwide trainings as a master teacher for PLTW. 

Jayda Pugliese, the K-8 principal at St. Mary Interparochial School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the recipient of the 2016 Milken Educator Award in Pennsylvania, the 2018 National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) Sylvia Shugrue Award, and was a 2019 finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year. Pugliese facilitates national and international professional development and training for schools, districts and universities on topics such as best teaching practices, designing accessible instruction for diverse learners, STEAM-based technology integration for classrooms, and implementing effective leadership and systemwide strategic planning. She is also the first in her family to graduate from high school and earn a college degree, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in special education and elementary education, a Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Literacy, and is currently a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and administration. 

Josha Sietsma teaches social and political sciences, Holocaust studies, and Japanese literature, and is the head of the humanities department at Corderius College in Amersfoort, Netherlands. Over the last decade, Sietsma has organized and taught trips related to Holocaust education. He emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach in the classroom, as evidenced by a recent project connecting the philosophy of architecture and the origin and validation of human rights with the Nebraska State Capitol. He is also the founder of two foundations: a think tank that serves local politicians by providing research, and the JAS-san Foundation, which promotes the use of classic Japanese literature in the classroom. Outside of the education field, Sietsma owns a small publishing company. 

Suzy Turner, a Gifted and Talented Education teacher and National History Day (NHD) advisor at Nashua-Plainfield Jr./Sr. High School in Nashua, Iowa, has earned many teaching honors for her students' success. These include NHD in Iowa Teacher of the Year (2009, 2013, 2020) and NHD Senior Division National Teacher of the Year (2020). Turner has presented on history and history education topics at state and national conferences, facilitated professional development sessions for K-12 social studies teachers, served as a guest blogger for PBS: History in The Classroom, and has been a scholar participant in programs sponsored by NHD, the World War I Centennial Commission, and American Battle Monuments Commission. Most recently, Turner authored a lesson on the Americans with Disabilities Act for A More Perfect Union and a lesson plan book jointly published by the National Endowment for the Humanities and National History Day.

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