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Dedication to Student Success Earns Moundsville's Heather Haught a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

First grade teacher channels research-based practices into academic and personal growth at McNinch Primary School

February 17, 2022

Santa Monica, Calif., — At McNinch Primary School, first grade teacher Heather Haught is known for caring deeply about her students, setting high standards, and creating captivating lessons that help them reach their full potential. While many students enter Haught's classroom with challenges, both academic and personal, she meets them where they are, lifts them up and sets them up to succeed. 

The Moundsville community repaid the favor today, celebrating Haught's success as she was named a 2021-22 Milken Educator Award recipient at a surprise school assembly surrounded by students, colleagues, state and local education officials, and media. West Virginia Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch joined Stephanie Bishop, vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, to continue the launch of the 35th anniversary tour by presenting Haught with the national recognition. 

"Heather Haught understands that developing lifelong learners starts with the whole child," Bishop said. "Through her commitment to meeting students where they are and dedication to parent outreach and teacher leadership across the state and district, she is creating a well-rounded environment for students to succeed."

Haught is among more than 60 educators across the nation who will receive the recognition during the 2021-22 season, and the second recipient from West Virginia. Michelle Wolfe, an English teacher at East Hardy High School in Baker, earned the Award yesterday. West Virginia marks the first destination on the 35th Milken Educator Awards anniversary tour honoring America's heroes, innovative and dedicated teachers. Haught is the first recipient from the Marshall County School District. 

"Heather Haught is a sterling example of compassion and commitment," said Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. "She is committed to fostering a strong foundation of learning among her first grade students at McNinch Primary School and illustrates such compassion as she engages families in the education of their children," he said. "She not only adopts research-based practices into her instruction plans, but she also shares her innovations and approaches with other teachers in her school and county to advance teaching and learning beyond her own classroom. We are proud of her leadership and the depth of her commitment to the children and families of her community." 

"The impact of the Milken Family Foundation has had on the teaching profession in West Virginia and around the country cannot be overstated," Superintendent Burch said. "The history of the program in our state is one we are very proud of, and we are grateful for the opportunity to host Milken as its first stop on the 2022 national tour of giving." 

Hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching," Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

More About Heather Haught 

Hands-On Learning: A facilitator for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), Haught brought the organization's hands-on STEM activities to the entire first grade. The collaborative, problem-based curriculum led students to develop higher-level thinking skills that carried over into the rest of their classroom activities. Haught adopts research-based practices and developmentally appropriate strategies to foster the development of every learner and help students reach their full potential, including differentiated instruction and learning centers. 

Staying Connected: Communicating with families and showing parents they are valued is a priority for Haught. She knows that while many McNinch parents may not have had a positive school experience themselves, they want the best for their children. Haught builds trusting relationships with families through daily collaboration, giving them tools, sharing expectations and making it as easy as possible for them to support children's momentum in the classroom. When COVID-19 closed McNinch school buildings in spring 2020, Haught was adamant about staying connected with students and families, recording videos, making phone calls, and sending emails, handwritten notes and postcards.  

Professional Development: A lifelong learner, Haught works tirelessly to better herself and improve her craft for the sake of students and colleagues. She serves on or chairs school and district committees, including teams handling math, textbook selection, report cards, professional learning, positive behavior support, safety, and hiring. Haught delivers professional development for the district and has taught college education courses at West Virginia University (WVU) and Bethany College. She was chosen to represent Marshall County Schools at a roundtable discussion at the West Virginia Department of Education. During the COVID-19 school building closures, in addition to creating engaging virtual lessons for her students, Haught led professional development and book study sessions for McNinch's teachers, met weekly with the first grade team, helped colleagues master Zoom, and partnered to create a webpage with virtual learning resources.

Education: Haught earned a bachelor's in multidisciplinary studies in 2009 from West Virginia University. She holds master's degrees in elementary education (2009) and reading (2010) from WVU and earned an administrative certificate from Wheeling University in 2019. 

More information about Heather Haught, plus links to photos and video from today's assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/heather-haught. For more information about fellow Milken Educator Michelle Wolfe, visit https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/michelle-wolfe.     

More About the Milken Educator Awards: "The future belongs to the educated."

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
  • Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers. 
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 
  • "We find you. You don't find us!" Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 
  • The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.  

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 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. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at MFF.org.

MEDIA CONTACT
Jana Rausch, (310) 435-9259 (cell), jrausch@mff.org