TEA News Releases Online
Oct. 21, 2010
Bryan principal wins $25,000 Milken award
BRYAN – Ben Milam Elementary Principal Tracy Spies has been scrambling the last couple of weeks, planning for a visit from Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott to her school. It turns out that she was planning her own party.
This morning, Spies learned that she is the latest recipient of the 2010 Milken National Educator Award, which carries with it a prize of $25,000, which she can spend on anything she likes.
Spies, a principal in the Bryan Independent School District, is the second Texan to win this award this year. On Wednesday, Rogelio Garcia, a third-grade teacher at James B. Bonham Elementary School in the Dallas Independent School District, learned that he too won this prestigious award.
Only 55 educators in the country will receive the award this year. Established by the Milken Family Foundation, the Milken National Educator Award program is now the largest teacher recognition program in the country, having awarded $62 million in prizes since its inception in 1987.
Educators don’t apply for the award. They come to the attention of state leaders in a variety of ways and then a blue-ribbon panel in each state recommends possible recipients to the foundation, which ultimately decides who will be recognized.
Spies was selected because her colleagues say she is the “ultimate instructional leader. She not only understands effective teaching practices, but completely understands how to support/coach/mentor her master and mentor teachers to make them more effective instructional leaders.”
Ben Milam Elementary participates in a program called the Teacher Advancement Program or TAP, which is a research-based school improvement model created by the Milken Family Foundation that is designed to attract, retain and motivate the best talent to the teaching profession. It provides teachers with career advancement opportunities, such as becoming a mentor or master teacher, without leaving the classroom. On-going applied professional development is also a feature of the program.
Under Spies’ leadership, the TAP program has produced measurable academic improvement for students. Spies is praised for her ability to select, train and grow exceptional teachers on her campus. “It is not uncommon to see her team-teaching in classrooms or modeling for novice teachers,” a TAP leader said. About half of the Ben Milam teachers have one to five years of teaching experience.
Spies, who has been an educator for more than a decade, is currently working on her doctorate.
Along with Perry and Scott, Dr. Gary Stark, the president and chief executive officer of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, was on hand today to recognize Spies. Stark oversees the implementation and management of TAP nationally. Along with recognizing her success, Spies will receive an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles this spring to participate in the Milken Educator Forum. It is during this event that she and Garcia will receive their cash awards.
For more information about the Milken award, visit http://www.mff.org and www.youtube.com/milkenaward.