September 29, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Legislative Liaison
(505) 827-7803 or
Pager: 988-0582
rwilliams@ped.state.nm.us

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

Milken Family Foundation’s 18th-year of honoring some of
America’s best teachers during National Notifications will begin on October 5

(Santa Fe, NM) – Two of New Mexico’s best educators will hit the jackpot by being named a Milken Educator by the Milken Family Foundation in October!

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 1987, 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. According to an April 2004 study conducted by Education Week and the Public Education Network, nearly 60 percent of all Americans say they are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate with public education as the centerpiece of his administration. 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.

“The Milken Family Foundation truly honors our brightest and most outstanding teachers. It’s an exciting time for these teachers, and for our state. Their vision and dedication is inspiring,” said New Mexico Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García.

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.

Under his leadership, the Milken National Educator Awards has become the largest teacher recognition program in the United States. By year’s end, 2,077 exceptional educators will have been recognized, totaling nearly $50 million in awards from the Foundation since the program’s inception.

“Improving American education strengthens the vitality of American democracy,” said Milken. “By shining a light on the excellence of these 100 educators, and the nearly 2,000 others we have honored over the past 17 years, we hope to show how crucial their efforts are to the goal of providing every child in America with the opportunity for a high quality education.”

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 annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference, an all-expenses-paid professional development conference held 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 Information Officer for the Public Education Department, at (505) 827-7803 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.