On a sunny fall day, students and teachers at Needham Elementary School gathered for a school assembly. As the den of the students settling in softened, a surprise guest appeared with an even more special surprise for one of the teachers. Representatives from the Milken Educator Awards were there to celebrate Tiffany Miera, the Colorado recipient of the 2022-23 Milken Educator Award. You’re watching the “Local News Network” brought to you by Serious Texas Bar-B-Q and Tafoya Barrett and Associates. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.
We were coming down for an assembly for Portrait of the Graduate to present the kids with awards and that the school district wanted to show what we were doing. And then all of a sudden it turned into this award and I just kept thinking like of all the different colleagues that this could be going to because we have such an amazing staff. And then all of the sudden it was my name and that was really shocking.
The Milken Educator Award is an initiative of the Milken Family Foundation committed to recognizing and rewarding excellence in education by honoring teachers across America. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize for the teacher that they can use for whatever they need in the classroom or outside of it. The award is presented to the teachers in front of their school so everyone can participate in celebrating the recipient.
I don’t think everybody knows the Milken Foundation by name, but seeing that number and that big check get presented, I think drives that home. And then I’m sure people are doing their Googling right now and getting on Twitter and as people do more research they’re going to realize what a prestigious award this is.
Music has the Grammys, movies, the Oscars but the Milken Foundation felt that the people who educate and shape the future also deserve recognition. The creation of the Milken Educator Awards is meant to do just that. Unlike other awards, there is no nomination process. The Milken Foundation says you don’t find us. We find you. The selection committee uses a confidential selection process for the teachers who are selected and base the criteria on effective and innovative instructional practices in the classroom, leadership inside and outside the classroom, early to mid career educators who have long range potential for their community as well as their inspiration for their school and their larger community. To keep the secret, only a select few are informed who the recipient will be or which school houses the teacher.
I only knew that it was her shortly before so I was trying not to have my eyes on her. She’s very humble and like, do the work and don’t draw attention to yourself kind of person. So I knew that she was going to be really surprised and also that she would only want to go back and teach her kids that she didn’t want the eyes on her. She didn’t want attention because that’s just the kind of person she is.
I teach because I love to see the kids grow and learn and that aha moment when they understand something if they’ve been struggling with it.
Miera is one of about 40 educators who will be Milken Award recipients this year. Since its inception, the Milken Educator Awards have given out over $140 million in funding, including 73 million in individual awards like the one Miera received. She plans to use the money to help pay off some of her student loans.
My advice to future teachers or teachers in it now, it’s not easy sometimes, but it’s definitely worth it.
Miera is now a part of the Milken Educators, a community of over 1000 educators across the United States who all have participated in furthering students’ passion for learning since 1987. For more information about the Milken Education Award visit milkeneducatoraward.com. For more information about Needham Elementary School and the work Miera and her fellow teachers are doing, visit needham.durangoschools.org. Thank you for watching this edition of the “Local News Network.” I’m Wendy Graham Settle.