St. Louis Area Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award


Today, Meghan Menchella, a social studies teacher at Crestview Middle School in the Rockwood School District, was presented with the national Milken Educator Award.

For more than 35 years, the Milken Educator Awards have rewarded and inspired excellence in the world of education by honoring top educators around the country with a $25,000 unrestricted cash prize. The Milken Educator Awards are hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching.” The initiative aims to reward outstanding K-12 educators for the quality of their teaching, professional leadership, engagement with families and the community, and potential for even greater contributions to the healthy development of children.

“Meghan Menchella shines as a leader, educator and storyteller,” said Milken Educator Awards Vice President Stephanie Bishop, who is also a 2001 Virginia Milken Educator. “History is full of stories; it takes the right educator to not only share those stories to young learners, but to also instill a sense of impact. Menchella’s engaging instruction encourages students to truly delve into history as it stands today. I am thrilled to say that Meghan is now a part of our Milken Educator Awards history. Congratulations!”

“We are thrilled to have the Milken Family Foundation recognize one of Missouri’s exceptional teachers with this award,” said Commissioner of Education Dr. Margie Vandeven. “The hard work that Meghan does every day to help educate the whole student in her classroom is truly inspiring to see.”

Meghan Menchella

Menchella works to ensure her students are not only succeeding academically but are also emotionally healthy. She communicates with families regularly to make sure they have information on the academic goals and needs for their student. Menchella looks for opportunities to engage her students in their learning through current events and uses continuity and change to exhibit how history is relevant to current events. Her classroom is built on the foundations of inquiry and critical thinking, providing students with challenging yet relatable lessons.

Her belief in her students and desire to see them connect with history is contagious. Menchella’s classroom is an environment conducive to learning and speaks to her love of education. Another way of showing her enthusiasm is by leading the Student Leadership Action Team and Student Lighthouse Team to help ensure that her students learn to take ownership of their education and future goals. She also participates in the districtwide Building Lighthouse team and Building Leadership team, serves on different district committees, and mentors new teachers.

Menchella earned a bachelor’s in middle school education, with an emphasis in social studies, from Lindenwood University in 2016, and a master’s in education from Southwest Baptist University in 2018.

More information about Menchella, plus photos and videos from today’s surprise assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website using the following link.


About the Milken Educator Awards

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 top teachers, principals, and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2023-24 honorees will attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in June 2024, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy, and practice. 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.

Since launching in 1987, 2023-24 will mark $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards will honor up to 75 recipients across the country in 2023-24 as part of the Milken Family Foundation’s Journey to the 3,000th Milken Educator. The 2023-24 Awards will mark $75 million in individual financial prizes spanning the length of the initiative and more than $144 million invested in the Milken Educator Award national network overall, empowering recipients to “Celebrate, Elevate, and Activate” the K-12 profession and inspiring young, capable people to pursue teaching as a career. Many recipients have gone on to earn advanced degrees and demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national and international levels.

Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.

The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on the adoption of children.

For more information, visit