Oscars of Teaching

They call it the “Oscars of Teaching”.  Since 1985 the Milken Family Foundation has awarded the Milken Educator Award to celebrate outstanding teachers.  The Foundation’s website explains that — unlike most teacher recognition programs — the Milken Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process.  Candidates, instead, are nominated by an independent committee appointed by participating state departments of education.  The winning teachers are then surprised with the award at school-wide assemblies.

With more than 1,400 students and faculty gathered in the gym at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, WA, teacher Nathan Gibbs-Bowling was awarded Washington’s 2013-14 Milken Educator Award.  Gibbs-Bowling teaches AP Government and AP Human Geography.  Across the country, in 40 participating states, outstanding secondary teachers will also be surprised with the award which also carries a $25,000 cash prize.

The foundation provided the following video of Gibbs-Bowling talking about how he inspires his students.


The Oregonian reports that Robert Gray Middle School teacher Teresa Chan Seidel (see photo) also took home the Milken Educator Award this year.  Her award was also presented at a high-profile school-wide assembly  Foundation co-founder, and former securities trader, Mike Milken presented the award to Seidel, who is pregnant with her third child.

Did you have a teacher who inspired you?  Let us know by signing our Yearbook.

(Photo Credit: Nicole Dungca / The Oregonian.) 

Fishman Prize Winners Announced

Out of more than 820 applicants, only four teachers across the country have been awarded the 2014 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice.  They are:

  • Kelly Zunkiewicz
    Earl J. Lennard High School
    Tampa, FL
  • Laura Strait
    Aspire ERES Academy
    Oakland, CA
  • Michael Towne
    Citrus Hill High School
    Perris, CA
  • Steven Sanders
    UIC College Prep
    Chicago, IL

Semifinalists had to submit teaching videos and agree to unannounced classroom observations.  Each winner will receive $25,000 and will participate in an intensive summer residency.  During the residency, they will reflect on their classroom practices and share their experiences with other educators.

The Fishman Prize is awarded by TNTP, a nonprofit organization that works with schools in an effort to bring the best teachers to those socioeconomic groups that traditionally struggle with educational issues.  “The New Teacher Project” was founded by teachers in 1997.

The editor of OurGreatTeachers.com is proud to be Ms. Zunkiewicz’s colleague within the Hillsborough County Public School system.

Teachers Honored at Florida History Fair

Teachers and students alike were recognized May 6th for their outstanding contributions to the study and analysis of history.  The Florida History Fair announced the following winners:


Melissa Robertson, Teacher of Merit Award
Ms. Robertson teaches European History, American History, and technology at McKeel Academy of Technology, Lakeland.  This is her third year participating in the Florida History Fair.

Leslie Porges, Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award, Junior Division
Ms. Porges teaches U.S. history and civics at American Heritage School, Plantation.  This is her 12th year participating in the Florida History Fair.

Dennis Dill, Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Award, Senior Division
Mr. Dill teaches social studies and technology at McKeel Academy of Technology, Lakeland.  This is also his 12th year participating in the Florida History Fair.

For student winners click here.

Each year since 1988 the Museum of Florida History sponsors the Florida History Fair.  Students in grades 6-12 researched the given theme, using both primary and secondary sources and presented their findings in a variety of ways, including written papers, exhibits, performances, or even websites.  This year’s theme was “Rights and Responsibilities in History”, a topic that was open to interpretation by entrants.  Students were free to focus on areas that interested them, such as politics, science, the arts, etc.

51 NC Teachers Win Fellowships

The Kenan Fellow Program at North Carolina State University has announced its 2014-15 winners.  Fifty-one teachers, from across the state, will spend five weeks of their summer working with engineering and technology experts.  The teachers will then use their experiences to develop new classroom resources.

Lesson plans from previous years have been made available.  Click here to view or download those plans.

Established in 2000, the fellowship is a program of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology, and Science.  It is largely funded by the National Science Foundation, with the goal of providing professional learning opportunities for exceptional teachers.

There are more than 300 graduates of the fellowship program throughout North Carolina.  The Kenan Institute has made available the following video of Fellow Talia Swiney talking about her experiences.

$50,000 to be Split Between Teacher & School

Mr. Rosbel Peña, a math teacher at Alton Memorial Jr. High School (Alton, TX) has been awarded the 2014 H-E-B Excellence in Education Award in the Lifetime Achievement category.  As such, he gets to pocket $25,000 while his school will collect an additional $25,000.

Elementary teacher, Connie Bagley, of Crockett Elementary (San Marcos, TX) also won a Lifetime Achievement award.  She will receive $25,000, while her school gets another $25,000.

H-E-B actually gives out several awards. Two teachers (one elementary and one secondary) win in each category.  Those teachers with less than 10 years of classroom experience are eligible to win the “Rising Star Award”, which comes with a cash prize of $10,000 to be split between the teacher and his/her school.  The “Leadership” award, is for teachers with 10-20 years of experience, and comes with $20,000 to be split.  Meanwhile, the “Lifetime Achievement” award, like the one Mr. Peña won, is for those veteran teachers with more than 20 years in the classroom.  The Lifetime award includes $50,000 to be shared.

H-E-B started out as a small Texas grocery store and has grown into one of the nation’s largest grocery chains, with more than 300 stores across Texas and northern Mexico.  H-E-B claims that their award is the largest monetary recognition program for teachers in Texas and is also one of the largest in the nation.

Golden Apple for the Teacher

It’s teacher appreciation week, and all across the nation teachers have been given shiny red apples as a small token of thanks.  However, one teacher in Harvey, IL, was given a golden apple.  No, this apple wasn’t laid by a magical goose.  It was presented to music teacher Roosevelt Griffin from Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School.

The Southtown Star reports that the Golden Apple Award recognizes great teachers who have helped to build a stronger, better-educated citizenry.  Griffin was also the recipient of $3,000 cash, and will be able to take a sabbatical during the Spring Quarter to study at Northwestern University.

The Golden Apple Foundation has given the award to deserving teachers for more than 25 years.  Ten teachers are have been selected since the award’s inception in 1986.  Those teachers then become a part of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.  The awards are televised on Chicago public television station WTTW11.