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Local Ashburn Teacher Wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award | People

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Local Ashburn Teacher Wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award
People, Schools

This was sent to us by the Milken Family Foundation:

Ashburn, VA (October 7, 2010)—The tables turned at a schoolwide assembly in Ashburn, Virginia, today when the Milken Family Foundation honored—and stunned—fifth-grade teacher Sean Patrick Griffin of Belmont Station Elementary with its Milken Educator Award, which comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000. Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Patricia Wright and Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick were among the leaders participating in the surprise celebration.


Dubbed “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards program was conceived by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Educator Awards have no formal nomination or application process. Each year exceptional teachers, principals and specialists—recommended without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education—are surprised with the news of their awards.

“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. Sean Patrick Griffin embodies this message intended for entire communities, policymakers, students who may be inspired to enter the profession, and for our nation’s K-12 educators themselves.”

Former students often visit their beloved fifth-grade teacher, Sean Patrick Griffin, who specializes in reading, English/Language Arts and social studies at Belmont Station Elementary School. To maximize his effectiveness, Griffin tailors his lessons to accommodate student needs based on the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) student achievement data.

One of his popular programs is a curriculum that integrates reading and social studies, using eight novels to represent the five regions of the U.S. Griffin created an online museum for his students to develop “visitors’ bureaus” with information on each area’s culture, climate, geography, resources and recreational facilities. He uses popular lyrics (such as Billy Joel’s “Allentown”) and hosts a reading blog to further engage students in the project. Griffin administers what he calls “The Starting Five” activity to get students learning within minutes of the bell. And by making every second count, Belmont Station Elementary’s fifth graders have enjoyed at least a 95% proficient rate on the reading SOL for the past five years. 

Griffin’s energy and enthusiasm for learning are felt beyond his classroom walls.  He provides SOL resources and support to staff across grade levels, is a member of the school equity team and school improvement plan committee, and serves as the social studies liaison between his school and district. Outside of school, Griffin coaches the staff basketball team and the Stone Bridge High School varsity baseball team.  Griffin is also the well-recognized voice of the Stone Bridge home football games.

Griffin is among the two Virginia Milken Educators honored this year.  Joel Robins, a fifth-grade teacher at Deep Creek Elementary in Chesapeake, was surprised with the recognition earlier this morning.

Since first presented in 1987 to a dozen California teachers, the Milken Educator Awards has grown to become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists with over $62 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards. The exponential impact of the more than 2,500 outstanding teachers has helped to reform American K-12 education. The Awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary educators.

Award Criteria:

Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;
  • Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

You can view and download the 2010 Milken Educator Awards Kick-Off YouTube Video. 
Take a peek at the surprise of a lifetime that awaits 55 of America’s best educators: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXh__cro4sM.

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit http://www.mff.org or call the Foundation at (310) 570-4775.  You can follow the Foundation at www.twitter.com/milken, www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards and at www.youtube.com/milkenaward.

People, Schools