Press Releases

Washoe County School District Teacher Honored with National Milken Educator Award and $25,000 Cash Prize

March 14, 2024

March 14, 2024

Superintendent Ebert was joined by Lowell Milken to surprise teacher at school

Carson City, Nev. - A school assembly turned into a surprise of a lifetime for Alice Maxwell Elementary School kindergarten teacher, Yamilet Lopez as she received the Milken Educator Award. Cheers of excitement filled the air when State Superintendent Jhone Ebert and Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken unveiled the true purpose for the school assembly and presented her with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

“As a kindergarten teacher, Ms. Lopez is committed to shaping the minds of our next generation and fostering a love for learning,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert. “Her dedication is truly commendable, and this recognition is a well-deserved tribute for everything she does.”

The Milken Educator Award provides public recognition and unrestricted financial awards of $25,000 to outstanding K-12 teachers, principals, and specialists who are furthering excellence in education.

“It’s an honor to celebrate Yamilet Lopez for her outstanding work at Alice Maxwell Elementary School,” said Governor Joe Lombardo. “Yamilet has made an indelible impact at Maxwell, and our entire state has been enriched by Yamilet’s legacy and commitment. Congratulations to Yamilet Lopez!”

“Teachers have the awesome responsibility of preparing all students for a bright future. Yamilet Lopez creates a nurturing environment for her early learners to excel and move on successfully to the next stage of learning. She also helps advance the instructional practices of other educators,” said Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken. “We commend Yamilet for enriching the educational experience at Alice Maxwell Elementary and serving as a positive role model for all those fortunate to know her. Congratulations and welcome to the Milken Educator Network.”

More About Yamilet Lopez

Yamilet Lopez builds strong connections with her young learners offering steadfast support as they acquire fresh skills and advance both academically and socially over the course of the academic year. Lopez delivers hands-on, enriching instruction that not only readies her students for the transition to first grade but also equips them with language and vocabulary skills surpassing typical kindergarten levels. She finds new ways to get her students excited about learning. Lopez developed a method called “spicy writing” to teach students how to add details to their narrative writing. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) growth highlights her impact, with her 2022-23 class showcasing a substantial rise from a winter median percentile of 49 to an impressive 82 in the spring.

Not only is she a kindergarten teacher at Alice Maxwell Elementary, Lopez impacts her colleagues at the school, district, and state levels. Leading the way in her dedication to education, she mentors teachers for elementary school teaching and learning cohorts, serving as a role model for aspiring educators. Active in professional development, she has participated in the department chair cohort via the Regional Professional Development Program (RPDP), contributing her insights.

Lopez plays a pivotal role in resource creation and webinar development for teacher registration and the promotion of positive teacher and parent relationships within the district. Additionally, her involvement as a panelist for the school’s kindergarten town hall reflects her dedication to acclimating families to the program and ensuring each child is optimally positioned for sustained educational success.

More About the Milken Educator Awards in Nevada: "The future belongs to the educated."

Since the Milken Educator Award program began in Nevada, 92 educators have been recognized in the State and received a total of $2,300,000 in cash prizes.

Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 top teachers, principals, and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards, and others dedicated to excellence in education.

The honorees attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this June, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education. Honorees receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. Milken Friends Forever (MFF) pairs a new recipient with a veteran Milken Educator mentor; the Expanding MFF Resource and Explorer Program fosters individual veteran Milken Educator partnerships around a specific topic area; and Activating Milken Educators (AME) promotes group collaboration in and across states to tackle pressing educational needs.


About the Nevada Department of Education

The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) leads and collaborates with Nevada’s 17 school districts and the State Public Charter School Authority to advance educational equity Statewide. With offices in Carson City and Las Vegas, NDE oversees all pre-K-12 education in the State, working to achieve its mission to improve student achievement and educator effectiveness by ensuring opportunities, facilitating learning, and promoting excellence. Under the leadership of the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, NDE impacts the achievement of nearly half a million children and 30,000 educators. Learn more about NDE and join us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. Instagram.

About the Milken Educator Awards The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by philanthropist and education visionary Lowell Milken, the Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at