Milken Educator Awards

Milken Educator Awards lowell milken

Conceived and created by Lowell Milken, The Milken Educator Awards is the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program. Over 2,900 exemplary teachers, principals and specialists have been surprised with individual, unrestricted $25,000 prizes since 1987.  Recipients are heralded early to mid-career for what they have achieved—and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.  Honorees join the national Milken Educator Network, a group whose expertise is a valuable resource to those shaping the future of education.

In addition to receiving the award, Milken Educators are given access to a powerful network of education professionals and development tools throughout the rest of their careers.

Recipients are surprised in ceremonies in front of their colleagues and students, often times during all-school assemblies. In front of cheering students, proud colleagues, distinguished officials and the media, each recipient is thanked for their contributions to education, both for what they have accomplished and also for their future potential. The publication Teacher magazine even nicknamed the awards, calling it the “Oscars of Teaching”—new Milken Educators have even been asked for autographs by admiring students!  And while the celebrity treatment is well-deserved, the Awards aren’t about the glitz and glamour.  They’re about bringing attention to these classroom heroes; serving at once as validation, motivation and inspiration to current and future quality educators. 

Below are the official criteria for the Milken Educator Award recipient selection process:

Based on guidelines established by the Milken Family Foundation, participating states’ departments of education appoint blue-ribbon committees that recommend candidates for selection. Identification and selection procedures are confidential, and the program does not include a formal nomination or application procedure.

  • Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;
  • Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

To read more about the Milken Educator Awards, please visit