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October 17, 2002

Rio Rancho Principal, Fort Wingate Teacher
Honored with $25,000 Milken Educator Awards

(Santa Fe, NM)-Principal Suzanne Harper of Colinas Del Norte Elementary School in Rio Rancho and Charlotte Begay, a family and child educator at Wingate Elementary School, a Bureau of Indian Affairs school in Fort Wingate, received prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards today at surprise notification ceremonies at their schools. They will receive $25,000 unrestricted financial awards for their recognition to use in any way they choose.

Presenting the Milken Educator Award was State Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis and Christopher Crain, senior vice president, operations and general counsel for the Milken Family Foundation. "Suzanne is committed to providing every student with an education that is a step above. She has transformed her school from a building to a vibrant learning environment," said State Superintendent Davis. "Charlotte takes an innovative approach to learning. She meets with parents, grandparents, aunts and others to involve them in students' lives and learning," he said.

In addition to the $25,000 financial awards, Harper and Begay will receive all-expenses-paid trips to Los Angeles in June 2003 to participate in the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference. They will become part of the Milken Educator Network, including more than 1,800 top educators who have access to a variety of professional resources to help cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools and districts.

Recipients of the awards are recommended to the Milken Family Foundation by an independent blue ribbon panel appointed by each state's department of education. Predetermined criteria for the award include exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school and profession, outstanding accomplishment, strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982 to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Santa Monica, California-based Foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in medical research and education.

Harper and Begay are among 100 K-12 educators from across the country to be recognized during the 16th annual National Notifications