Oregon Department of Education
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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

on January 6, 2016, in front of his principal, colleagues, students, and distinguished community members, Waldo Middle School teacher Ricardo Larios was honored with the prestigious Milken Educator Award and a $25,000 unrestricted financial prize.

The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. Larios is the 77th recipient of the award since Oregon joined the program in 1990, and joins a network of more than 2,600 K-12 educators from across the country.

A native to Salem, Larios has taught social studies for eight years at Waldo Middle School where 95 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and nearly 60 percent speak a language other than English. Larios, a bilingual educator, is widely known in the Salem community for his ability to connect and directly relate to students and families through his personal experiences growing up in the same area. In the classroom, he demonstrates a deep commitment to each of his students by making everyday issues more accessible and applicable. He creates learning experiences that draw on the rich and diverse backgrounds of his students.

“Mr. Larios is committed to developing the hearts and minds of all students – particularly those who are underrepresented and historically underserved – by teaching students that setbacks in life are merely setups for greatness,” said Waldo Middle School Principal Tricia Nelson. “He can turn every moment into a lesson and every child into a learner.”

Ricardo was presented with the distinct navy blue envelope by Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Salam Noor.

“It is my privilege to help recognize a truly remarkable teacher such as Ricardo Larios,” said Noor. “Ricardo is a shining example of what great teaching and learning is all about in Oregon, and I hope that this award reminds everyone just how much excellent teachers can impact our schools and communities.”

Larios, whose parents emigrated from Mexico, is the first in his family to go to college. Larios’ value for education and opportunity has been integral in growing a college-readiness program at Waldo called AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination). The program, which targets students who are first in their family to go to college, is centered on developing the knowledge and skills students need to be successful in school and in life.

“Ricardo Larios, a first generation college graduate and the son of Mexican immigrants, is committed to developing the hearts and minds of all students, particularly those students who are underrepresented,” said Foley. “He has the reputation of a teacher who can teach anyone, anything. We are proud to have this exceptional teacher join the ranks of Milken Educators.”

The Milken Educator Awards program, which was launched by the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) in 1987, has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees. Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Milken 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.

Ricardo Larios in the News

  • Spotlight: Ricardo Larios (Milken Family Foundation)
  • Local teacher honored with surprise award and $25,000 - January 7, 2016 (Statesman Journal)
  • Bilingual Oregon middle school teacher 'can teach anyone, anything,' wins $25,000 - January 6, 2016 (Oregonian)
  • Salem teacher wins prestigious education award - January 7, 2016 (EdWeek)
  • Salem Middle School Teacher Wins $25,000 Award - January 6, 2016 (KEX-AM)
  • Salem teacher surprised with $25,000 award - January 6, 2016 (KATU)

    Past Oregon Milken Winners


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