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Jake Weigler, (503) 947-5650

November 17, 2009

Two Oregon High School Teachers Named Milken National Educators

West Salem and Gladstone recipients will each receive $25,000

SALEM – State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo and Lowell Milken, Chairman and Co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, announced today that West Salem High School social studies teacher Drew Moneke and Gladstone High School science teacher Kevin Zerzan have been selected as recipients of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.

The teachers were each recognized in surprise ceremonies at their respective schools Tuesday morning. The educators will also receive a $25,000 cash prize with the award.

“Great educators are the lifeblood of our schools – without them the whole system would fail,” said Castillo. “I am so thankful for the work of groups like the Milken Family Foundation to give our exceptional teachers the attention they deserve. Today’s credit should also extend to the West Salem and Gladstone districts for providing the environment to nurture such teaching talent. I offer my congratulations to all of those involved in creating this success.”

“Highly effective educators are the human capital that will equip America’s youth in this increasingly competitive global economy,” said Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. “By shining a national spotlight on exceptional people like Drew Moneke and Kevin Zerzan, the Milken Educator Awards send a powerful message of the critical role that talented teachers play in preparing young people for a bright future.”

Drew Moneke of West Salem High School teaches 120-135 students a day spread over 4 sections and typically convinces 95% of his students to take the Advanced Placement (AP) exams each year. He creates a dynamic classroom to keep students active, aware, and engaged with all the participatory strategies that he uses. Students and parents comment on the phenomenal support he gives to his students.

Kevin Zerzan has been a leader in bringing state of the art technology to the science department at Gladstone High School. His vision includes many projects connected with SOLV, leadership in Green School certification, development of forestry and ecology projects, and integrating the technical education/pre-engineering field with physical science.

Dubbed “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards were conceived by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. He said, “Milken Educators represent the best of what the American teaching profession is and can be.” The Awards alternate each year between elementary and secondary educators. Since first presented in 1987 to 12 exemplary California teachers, the Milken Educator Awards program is now the nation’s largest teacher recognition program having honored more than 2,400 educators from coast to coast with over $60 million.

In addition to their cash prizes, the recipients will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the Milken Educator Forum, a national gathering of award-winning educators to address innovative strategies for advancing teacher effectiveness. They will also 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.

Recipients of the award are recommended to the Foundation by an independent blue ribbon panel appointed by each participating state’s department of education. Criteria include 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; and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues, and the community.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jake Weigler, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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Oregon Department of Education
Voice: 503-947-5600
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255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203

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