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Vol. 44, No. 77

October 14, 2010

Missouri Fifth-Grade Teacher Wins 2010 Milken Educator Award

As Anika Williams walked through the halls of Conn-West Elementary School this morning, she had no idea she was about to receive what many have called the “Oscar of teaching.”

A fifth-grade teacher in the Grandview C-4 School District, Williams was honored today at an assembly with a surprise announcement: she is the winner of a 2010 Milken Educator Award, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000.

The award was presented by Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards (and a 1994 Milken Award recipient herself). Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro attended the assembly to take part in the surprise announcement. Williams is Missouri’s only recipient of the prestigious award this year.

Williams has been teaching for 15 years and has spent 12 years at the Grandview C-4 district. Last school year she was named “teacher of the year” for her building. She has been grade-level chair and has served on the textbook adoption committee for reading, the communication arts curriculum writing team and the technology curriculum writing team. She also has conducted professional development for the district to beginning teachers on state assessments.

Colleagues describe Williams as a “guru” in integrating technology into everyday lessons and subject areas. Her students have learned how to film commercials, create PowerPoint presentations and use the class website to blog about class discussion topics. Her students also show ongoing growth and perform at high levels on various assessments.

“Anika exhibits exemplary instructional skills,” said Mary Moore, principal at Conn-West. “She motivates students to want to succeed, teaching them as if they were her very own. One of her most powerful attributes is her keen focus and effort put into building relationships with students, parents and colleagues.”

“Her strongest instructional skills include teaching to objectives of lessons, providing ongoing modeling and input to students, checking students for understanding and providing immediate feedback,” Moore said.

Sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation, the Milken Educator Awards provide public recognition to teachers, principals and other specialists who are furthering excellence in education. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators.

“Our society’s most important profession is teaching as it informs all others,” said Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. “We created the Milken Educator Awards to proclaim in a very public way that greatness in education must be recognized and rewarded. It is a message intended for entire communities, policymakers, students who may be inspired to enter the profession, and for our nation’s K-12 educators themselves.”

The 2010 Milken Award winners receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to participate in the annual Milken Educator Forum, which brings together educators from across the nation to discuss innovative strategies for advancing teacher effectiveness. Winners also are invited to join the Milken Educator Network, an association of more than 2,500 exemplary individuals that serves as a valuable resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education.

Missouri has participated in the Milken Educator Awards program since 1996. A total of 42 Missouri educators in public schools have received the award since that time.

For more information about the foundation and the Milken Educator Awards, visit mff.org/mea.