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Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award

Milken Award
The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982. Since then, the Foundation has worked with more than 1,000 organizations in countless ways to share its purpose of discovering inventive ways of helping people help themselves and those around them to lead productive and satisfying lives.

Recipients of the award are selected by an independent blue-ribbon committee appointed by each state’s department of education. Predetermined criteria for the award include exceptional educational talent and promise; distinguished achievement in developing innovative educational curricula, programs and/or teaching methods; outstanding ability to instill in students character and self-confidence, and commitment to professional development.

SOURCE: Milken Family Foundation  External Link

Salem Teacher Surprised with Milken Educator Award and $25,000 Cash

The 2014 “Oscar of Teaching” Presented by Milken Family Foundation Is Sole Oregon Recipient

(Salem, Ore.) —First grade teacher Julie Cleave won the prestigious 2014 Milken Educator Award for the state of Oregon and $25,000 during a morning assembly at Hallman Elementary School in Salem Thursday.

Cleave is one of up to 40 recipients across the country this school year who will be receiving the honor during the 2014–15 season and the only one in Oregon. The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. The award comes with an unrestricted financial prize of $25,000.

Along with the recognition typically bestowed to recipients, Cleave now belongs to a network of more than 2,600 K–12 teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country.

Cleave, who teaches in one of the most challenged schools in Oregon, works tirelessly to provide the stability and creativity that her students need to get their young lives off to the best possible start. Seventy-four percent of Hallman students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and difficulties such as poverty, homelessness, or an incarcerated parent are not uncommon. But Cleave is not deterred and meets children where they are, academically and developmentally. She helps them to exceed all expectations whether they have special needs, are English Language Learners, or just need an academic boost.

“Cleave is recognized as a leader who helps create an atmosphere of success for everyone in the building," said Foley. "She is a sought-after mentor and valued for her ability to be kind and fair when making decisions or giving counsel. She is a valuable person to join our network of Milken Educators.”

Although students often enter her class performing below grade-level, by the end of the school year most are reading and doing math at their proper grade level. This sets them on a path of ongoing success and gives them confidence that they can learn and achieve.

Cleave goes above and beyond in other ways, too. When she noticed that many girls in her school were struggling with self-esteem issues, she organized Girls on the Run, a program to build self-esteem and a commitment to exercise. Literally going the extra mile, Cleave trained to do a 5K with them. She paired each child with a “buddy” and coordinated volunteers and donations of running shoes and clothes.

After serving as an instructional coach for a time, Cleave elected to return to the classroom because she missed interactions with students—and her students are glad that she did.

Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Awards are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.

Past recipients have used their Awards to finance their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships, and even funded the adoption of children.

Oregon joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1990 and there have been 76 recipients since the program began there.

Julie Cleave in the News

  • Salem Teacher Julie Cleave wins $25,000 for exceptional work with students- December 11, 2014 (Oregonian)
  • Salem Teacher wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award- December 11, 2014 (Statesman Journal)
  • Salem Teacher Wins Milken Award- December 12, 2014 (OPB)

  • Past Oregon Milken Winners


    • Jenni Knaus Email    (503) 947-5860
      Office of the Deputy Superintendent - Administrative Specialist

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