Every year, the Milken Family Foundation honors exemplary educators with $25,000 cash prizes “to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession.” This money is unrestricted, left entirely to teachers’ discretion in improving their classrooms and schools. The foundation’s website states, “Not an accolade for ‘lifetime achievement’ or the proverbial gold watch at the exit door, the Milken Educator Awards target early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.” Sometimes referred to as the “Oscars of Education,” the Milken Awards provide both publicity and resources, allowing the work of outstanding teachers to be recognized, furthered, and emulated.
On January 27, 2015, Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, presented Kelly Wilber (’10) with the prestigious Milken. Wilber, who teaches fifth grade at Southport Elementary in Indianapolis, joins 36 other educators, including Laurie Davies from Avon, Indiana, in the 2014-15 Milken cohort. Wilber earned her Master of Education from the Adult and Professional Studies Indianapolis branch in 2010, and her Principal’s License the following year. At Southport, Wilber is a TAP mentor who coaches colleagues, and beyond Southport, she “serves on the [district] High Ability team, volunteers for the district Title I Science Night, organizes community fundraisers, and has been instrumental in helping to plan the district’s summer school program, investing her own time in the effort.” As she accepted the award, Wilber credited her students: “We know you love to learn, and because of you, we love to teach.”
This article is written by Hannah Combs who is a student writer for the Alumni Office. She is a senior student of Writing and Humanities through the John Wesley Honors College.