Press Releases

Three Nevada Educators Honored with 2023 Milken Educator Awards for Excellence in Education

February 15, 2023

Santa Monica, CA – Nevada teachers have been recognized for their exceptional contributions in education, with three teachers from different schools receiving the Milken Educator Award. The Milken Educator Awards, regarded as the "Oscars of Teaching," inspire and recognize educators who make a profound difference for students, colleagues, and communities. This year's Nevada honorees are Jason Murray from Sparks, Rejily Soriano from West Wendover, and Liz Barnum from Las Vegas.

Jason Murray, a third and fourth-grade teacher and soccer coach at Florence Drake Elementary School in Sparks, Nevada, was surprised with the Milken Educator Award during an assembly at his school. Murray is known for his active engagement, impressive results, and effective leadership in and out of the classroom. He designs interactive lessons with embedded technology to keep students engaged and uses daily formative assessments to gauge understanding and adjust his instruction as needed. Murray has helped implement "Walk to Learn," a school-wide effort to support student growth, where teachers work with all students and share ownership of student outcomes. Murray's students and the school as a whole have made great strides, with the school achieving National Blue Ribbon School status in 2022. The Milken Educator Award comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize that Murray can use as he chooses.

Rejily Soriano, a math teacher at West Wendover Junior and Senior High School in West Wendover, Nevada, was also surprised with the Milken Educator Award in front of students and colleagues. Soriano has worked tirelessly to help her students succeed, including implementing student-led conferences, which provide opportunities for students to take ownership of their learning and showcase their strengths. Soriano is committed to helping her students develop problem-solving skills and growth mindsets, and she is passionate about closing the achievement gap. Soriano is also the high school's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) adviser and has guided her students to state and national awards.

Liz Barnum, an elementary teacher at Judy and John L. Goolsby Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada, was surprised with the Milken Educator Award during a surprise assembly. Barnum is a data-driven teacher who uses assessment data to tailor her instruction to meet the needs of all her students. She creates a positive and supportive classroom environment and builds strong relationships with her students and their families. Barnum is a team player who collaborates with colleagues to improve school culture and student outcomes. She has served as a mentor teacher, a new teacher liaison, and as the chair of the School Organizational Team.

Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken presented the awards to Murray, Soriano, and Barnum. The awardees will join a national network of more than 2,900 Milken Educator Award recipients and other leaders from across the country dedicated to strengthening K-12 education. The award comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize that each awardee can use as they choose.

"The Milken Educator Awards recognize outstanding educators who are making a difference in the lives of their students and communities," said Lowell Milken. "Jason Murray, Rejily Soriano, and Liz Barnum are inspiring educators who are dedicated to helping their students succeed. They are outstanding role models for all educators and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the future of K-12 education in Nevada."

Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone M. Ebert congratulated the awardees and praised their dedication to the education profession. "These educators exemplify the exceptional commitment and passion that it takes to be a great teacher," said Superintendent Ebert. "They are inspiring their students and colleagues to excel, and we are grateful for their contributions to Nevada's schools. Congratulations to Jason Murray, Rejily Soriano, and Liz Barnum on this well-deserved honor."

To learn more about Jason Murray, Rejily Soriano, and Liz Barnum, visit the Milken Educator Awards website.