Press Releases

Five Schools from Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas Named Finalists in Prestigious NIET Founder’s Award

March 09, 2023

Scottsdale, AZ (March 7, 2023) - The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) announced today that five schools have received $10,000 as finalists for NIET’s 2023 Founder’s Award. The prestigious Founder’s Award was created by Lowell Milken in 2008 to honor one school in the United States each year for exceptional implementation of NIET’s principles to build educator excellence and advance student success. Each school will be honored during NIET’s national conference in Indianapolis on March 23, culminating in the announcement of the grand prize winner and a cash prize of $50,000 for the school. 

The finalists are Desert Thunder School (Avondale Elementary School District, Arizona);  Dr. Lonnie Green Elementary (San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Texas); Forest Acres Elementary School (School District of Pickens County, South Carolina); Slaughter Elementary School (East Feliciana Public Schools, Louisiana); and William Henry Burkhart Elementary (Perry Township Schools, Indiana). 

Founder’s Award recipients are selected by NIET based on several factors, including their efforts to make instructional excellence the cornerstone of school improvement, plans for regular professional learning focused on real-time needs of teachers and students, creating a culture of collaboration and reflection, and leveraging teacher leaders to drive student growth.

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"Our 2023 NIET Founder’s Award finalists come from diverse educational settings yet share one common truth: Talented educators are the foundation for student success," said NIET Founder Lowell Milken. "Each finalist announced today – Desert Thunder, Forest Acres, Dr. Lonnie Green, William Henry Burkhart and Slaughter – has created powerful environments for teachers to lead and for students to take charge of their learning. We commend these models for embodying our mission of building educator excellence to give all students the opportunity for success."

NIET’s partner schools have shown success in improving educator, student, and school outcomes. Schools, including the 2023 award finalists, have continuously elevated their educators through the use of NIET’s tools and resources to support instructional excellence and create career pathways. 

"Leaders and educators at these five schools have exemplified what is possible when every student has an excellent educator," said  "The results being achieved show that investing in teacher leadership and building the capacity of teachers and leaders improves student outcomes. These schools also show the power of educator effective strategies across communities with diverse needs and offer models for others to learn from."