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Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards

To Attract, Retain, and Motivate Talented People to the Challenge
and Adventure of Teaching

2018 Winner -  Sarah Szymanski 

Sarah Szymanski headshot
Sarah Szymanski 
Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation

Celebrating 30 Years of the Milken Educator Awards

This marks the 30th year of the Milken Educator Awards, the oldest teacher recognition program of its kind in the U.S. For three decades the Milken Family Foundation has surprised outstanding educators with $25,000 checks and national recognition.

The prestigious honor has been described as "the Oscars of teaching" by Teacher magazine. More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 Awards, has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers

See 30 Years of Milken Educator Award Surprises in Colorado


The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards program, sponsored by the Colorado Department of Education and the State Board of Education, provides public recognition and an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and other education professionals who are furthering excellence in education.

The Milken Educator Awards are announced in the fall of each year at surprise notifications, held in all-school assemblies.The chief state school officer makes the award announcement in the company of Foundation representatives and other dignitaries, including the Governor or first lady, as well as the electronic and print media.

New Colorado recipients are also honored at a Colorado State Board of Education meeting following their receipt of the award.

Click the following dates to read about Colorado’s Milken Educators from:

2017 201520142013201220102009200820072006200520042003200220012000199919981997.


Recipients are selected from outstanding educators who have distinguished themselves in the eyes of their peers, students and community by:

  • Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school, and profession
  • Outstanding accomplishment and strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues, and the community.

Click here for more information about the Milken Family Foundation Educator Awards.

Sarah Szymanski and her class with Lowell Milken
Sarah Szymanski and her class with Lowell Milken


Kim Burnham
Competitive Grants and Awards
(303) 866-6916