Oct. 17, 2008
Pharr-San Juan-Alamo second grade teacher wins prestigious Milken Award
ALAMO – In a surprise school assembly today, North Alamo Elementary second-grade teacher Claudia Pena was presented the Milken Family Foundation’s National Educator Award.
The coveted recognition carries with it a $25,000 cash prize, which Pena can spend on anything she wishes.
Pena is one of about 80 educators nationwide being recognized this year with the Milken Educator Award, which is designed to honor and reward exemplary teachers. This is the 22nd year that Milken Family Foundation representatives have crisscrossed the country to name, during surprise notification ceremonies, recipients of the awards.
Dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were first presented in 1987 to reward, retain and attract the highest caliber professionals to our nation’s schools. This year, Texas has three recipients.
"Claudia Pena is an outstanding model for every school teacher," said Robert Scott, commissioner of education. "Her ability to inspire her students to learn, her skill at working with parents, and her leadership talents at her school have made her an educator we can admire and applaud. She is one of thousands of exceptional Texas educators whose hard work and passion for teaching have made a tremendous difference for so many school children."
Pena combines a creative, activity-based approach with high expectations to inspire her students in the classroom. Her students have gone on to perform well on third-grade student assessment tests in math and reading. She has been an energetic leader mentoring other teachers and serving on district curriculum and discipline committees.
"Nothing in America’s K-12 schools has more influence on student learning than the quality of the classroom teacher," said Lowell Milken, chairman of the Milken Family Foundation. "Highly effective teachers are the bedrock in constructing a world-class education system that meets our challenges and opportunities in this 21st century. It is a national imperative that we attract, retain and motivate people of talent to the profession. America’s prosperity depends on it."
Since its inception, the Milken Educator Awards have recognized more than 2,300 educators and presented them with more than $60 million in cash awards. The 2008 recipients will receive their $25,000 checks during the Milken National Education Conference in Los Angeles in April 2009.
In the eight years that Texas has participated in the award program, 37 educators have been honored.
Milken Educator Award recipients are selected based on effective instructional practices and student learning results, exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom, strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership, and serving as a motivational role model for students, colleagues and the community.
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