$25,000 Milken Educator Award Goes to Bradley Abel of John Hersey High in Arlington Heights, IL

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A seemingly routine schoolwide assembly turned into the surprise of a lifetime when the Milken Family Foundation honored—and stunned—Bradley Abel, a social science teacher at John Hersey High School, with a Milken Educator Award. Presented by Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken, Congressman Robert Dold, Illinois State Board of Education Member James W. Baumann and Township High School District 214 Superintendent David R. Schuler, the Award comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000.

Nothing assures the success of a nation more than education; and nothing assures the quality of education more than dedicated classroom teachers instilling a love of learning and sense of wonder in their students

“Nothing assures the success of a nation more than education; and nothing assures the quality of education more than dedicated classroom teachers instilling a love of learning and sense of wonder in their students,” said Mike Milken on the power of an outstanding educator.

This year marks the Milken Family Foundation’s 25th anniversary recognizing and rewarding America’s top teachers with what Teacher Magazine deemed “the Oscars of Teaching.” The Awards program was created 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 has 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 public education system is at the heart of America’s promise and is essential in safeguarding the American dream for future generations,” said Lowell Milken, Milken Family Foundation chairman and co-founder. “With research confirming that an effective teacher is the single most important school-related factor in raising student achievement, it is clear to see the critical role that outstanding teachers play in shaping our country. We created the Milken Educator Awards to proclaim in a very public way that greatness in education must be recognized and rewarded. As the program’s motto extols, ‘the future belongs to the educated.’ Whether it is in the classroom, on the soccer field, or in the community, Bradley Abel goes above and beyond to realize significant growth for all students. His inspiring and engaging leadership serves as a model for communities, policymakers, and students who may be motivated to enter the profession as well as for all of our nation’s K-12 educators.”

Known for his positive attitude and considerate approach, Bradley Abel instills in students an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and personal improvement. Abel worked closely with a colleague to develop the Advanced Placement human geography curriculum, and their efforts paid off: Hersey High now has five sections of the class, totaling 135 students. Touting learning results that are nothing short of stunning, 95 percent of his students took the AP test and 100 percent of them passed, including freshmen and sophomores who were taking the exam for the first time. What’s more, Hersey has had a 3-to 4-point gain in ACT reading scores thanks to Abel’s extra assistance.

But Abel has the ability to nurture growth and achievement in students at all levels. Special education teachers praise him for his success reaching those who are emotionally disturbed or hard of hearing and deaf. Always upbeat, Abel makes himself freely available to students and colleagues alike, contributing to students’ consistent performance at the highest levels.

Abel is the social studies department’s go-to contact and regularly mentors new teachers. His expertise is in high demand in other school districts as well. When he is not in the classroom, Abel can be seen on the playing field as the head coach for the girls’ soccer team. He is also actively involved in Hersey High’s “Service Over Self” community program.

The Awards benefits do not end with the surprise notification. New recipients are invited to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of distinguished educators whose expertise serves as a valuable resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education.

Since first presented to a dozen California teachers, the Milken Educator Awards program has grown to become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards. A total of $137 million has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout the recipients’ careers in education. The exponential impact of the more than 2,500 outstanding teachers has helped to reform American K-12 education. The Milken Awards alternates yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Each participating state department of education appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to review candidates that are sourced through a confidential selection process and recommend candidates to the Foundation.

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.

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 http://www.twitter.com/milken, http://www.youtube.com/milkenaward and http://www.facebook.com/milkeneducatorawards.

View the Milken Educator Awards kick-off video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCmGOvmNtV8.

An education reformer for three decades, Lowell Milken created the Milken Educator Awards to recognize exemplary teachers and established TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement to generate more talented teachers, http://www.tapsystem.org. Lowell Milken recently provided the founding gift for the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. For more information about Lowell visit http://www.lowellmilken.com.

For a complete biography and more information about Mike Milken, please see http://www.mikemilken.com.

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Jana Rausch
Milken Family Foundation
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