PRESS RELEASE - October 24, 2003
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

New Mexico Educator to be Surprised with $25,000 Milken National Educator Award

Milken Family Foundation's 17-year tradition honors some of
America's best teachers during National Notifications that began on October 7

(Santa Fe, NM)--At least one of New Mexico's best educators is about to hit the jackpot by being named a Milken Educator by the Milken Family Foundation!

Dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were created in 1985 to reward, retain and attract the highest caliber professionals to our nation’s schools. Since October 7, unsuspecting educators across the country have been surprised with the news of their $25,000 awards – which can be used any way they choose – during emotional, school-wide assemblies attended by state and local officials, students, peers and community leaders.

New Mexicans agree that providing a first-rate education for every child is one of the most important issues facing our country. And although research shows that there is no greater factor in successful student learning than the quality of teachers in our schools, the work of highly regarded educators is rarely recognized.

“New Mexico’s Milken Educators make a significant contribution to the lives and futures of our children,” said New Mexico Secretary of Education-Interim Dr. Alan D. Morgan. “This marks our 12th year of recognizing excellence in education with the Milken Family Foundation, and we are proud to acknowledge the vision and dedication these educators bring to New Mexico schools.”

Education pioneer Lowell Milken – chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation – created the awards to celebrate the efforts of some of our nation’s most outstanding teachers, principals and specialists in K-12 education. He will visit New Mexico to present the year’s first Milken Educator Award.

Under his leadership, the Milken National Educator Awards has become the largest teacher recognition program in the United States. By the end of October, nearly 2,000 exceptional educators from 47 states will have been recognized, totaling nearly $50 million in awards from the Foundation since the program’s inception.

“By choosing to practice in the most noble and important profession, our nation’s talented educators make a lasting contribution to young people’s minds, imaginations and characters,” said Milken. “We are proud to honor the outstanding work of these gifted teachers, providing them with the recognition they so richly deserve.”

Educators are recommended for this prestigious honor without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education. Recipients of the Milken Educator Awards are selected on the basis of numerous criteria, including:

· Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school and profession;

· Outstanding accomplishments and strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and

· Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community at-large.

Recipients are presented with their $25,000 award checks at the 15th annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference, an all-expenses-paid professional development conference held this year for the first time in Washington, D.C. They also join the Milken Educator Network, a coalition of over 2,000 top educators who have access to a variety of expert resources to help cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools and districts.

For more information about the Milken National Educator Awards, please contact Ruth Williams, public outreach director for the New Mexico Public Education Department at (505) 476-0393 or the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4775. Awards information can also be found on the Foundation’s Web site at www.mff.org.