Nov 1, 2010 4:27 PM by Katie Durio

Two Louisiana teachers surprised with a national award

BATON ROUGE, La. - In surprise ceremonies held at their respective schools, Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary School teacher Laura Hill and Delhi Charter School teacher Renee Lee Ward learned they were recipients of the prestigious Milken Educator Award. The national award includes a $25,000 cash prize for each of the public school teachers to spend any way she wishes. The announcements were made in Baton Rouge and Franklin today by State Deputy Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler and officials from the Milken Family Foundation.

Hill, who has been teaching for six-and-a-half years, is a fourth grade teacher at Cedarcrest-Southmoor Elementary in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. One of her accomplishments is that her students had a 100 percent passage rate on the fourth-grade Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) exam last year. Additionally, Hill is a TAP mentor teacher who is responsible for co-leading weekly professional developmen t sessions and demonstrating lessons and models best practices for the teachers she supports.

Ward, a former first grade teacher with 11 years of experience, is in her first year as a Master Teacher at Delhi Charter School. In the classroom, she analyzes students' standardized tests and benchmark data to identify her students' areas of strength and weakness. In her role as Master Teacher, Ward utilizes research-based teaching strategies and works to provide a strong system of support to the teachers at her school.

"We would like to congratulate these outstanding teachers for receiving this extraordinary honor," State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek said. "Our state is fortunate to have these dynamic academic leaders serving schoolchildren. These phenomenal educators have distinguished themselves, not only for their work in their own classrooms, schools and districts, but through their leadership and participation in efforts to improve education across the state."

Lowell Milken created the Milken Educator Awards in 1987 to provide public recognition of educators across the country and to encourage talented and creative people to choose teaching as a career. Milken is also the creator of TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, which offers teachers multiple career paths, along with performance-based compensation for educators who help their students achieve academic gains.

Award recipients are selected by the Milken Family Foundation, which seeks out educators from across the country who demonstrate the qualities of world-class teachers. Among the criteria for selection are:

Exceptional educational talent, as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and schools;
Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the p rofession;
Contributions to education that are largely unheralded, yet worthy of the spotlight;
Strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership by early-to-mid-career educators; and
Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the Milken Educator Awards. Since the program began, more than 2,500 teachers across the country have been awarded more than $62 million. Louisiana joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 2001. Since that time, 28 Louisiana teachers have received the honor and have collectively been awarded $700,000. Nationally, 55 educators will be awarded more than $1.3 million.

In addition to the cash prize, new Milken award recipients also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to participate in the Milken Educator Forum focused on innovative strategies for advancing t eacher effectiveness.

For more information on the Milken Educator Awards, visit



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