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Homewood Teacher Wins "Education Oscar"

2012-2013 - Congratulations to Edgewood Elementary teacher Pamela Smith who was presented the National Educator Award by the Milken Family Foundation during a surprise school-wide assembly.  The announcement came during the 26th annual coast-to-coast tour to reward top educators.  Smith never expected the award or the $25,000 check presented with the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, the “Education Oscar.”

Presented by President and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching and Milken Family Foundation representative, Dr. Gary Stark, and Dr. Tommy Bice, State Superintendent of Education, the award honors the exceptional work of educators as a model for the state and nation.

The Milken Family Foundation’s 26th annual National Notifications Tour is honoring more than 32 outstanding educators and is the nation’s largest teacher recognition program. The entire school gathered to hear the extraordinary news that one of its own would receive an unrestricted $25,000 financial reward.

Bice praised Alabama’s 2012 Milken Educator by saying, “This recognition of Pam Yau Smith as a Milken Educator is a direct reflection of her unwavering passion to ensure ALL students have a depth of understanding of math and science and how that understanding applies to real-world problems needing real-world solutions. She is a role model for what rigorous and relevant instruction looks like in action.”

Smith is a Learning Enhancement and Academic Design (L.E.A.D.) Teacher who instructs kindergarten through fifth-grade classes in science and math enhancement for hands-on learning. She collaborates with grade-level teachers to design technology-integrated, inquiry-based lessons. Smith is a National Board Certified teacher and a lead teacher for the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative for five years. She was a member of the final four for the 2011-12 Alabama Teacher of the Year award and Elementary Teacher of the Year for Homewood City School System the same year.

Each year the Milken Family Foundation travels from coast to coast surprising teachers, principals, and specialists with $25,000 awards because they are furthering excellence in education. Since Alabama joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1998, 30 Alabama educators have received the “Education Oscar” and a total of $750,000.

The “Education Oscar” recognizes teacher-leaders in the early to middle part of their careers who are innovative and effective. There is a rigorous and confidential selection process. Teachers cannot apply for the award.

Educators are recommended without their knowledge to the Milken Family Foundation by an independent blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education. Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. In recognizing these outstanding teachers with $25,000, the Foundation hopes to raise public awareness that high-quality teachers are essential to student achievement. The award was developed to reward, retain, and attract the highest quality K-12 teachers. 

Smith joins the Milken Educator Network, a nationwide coalition of more than 2,500 top educators who have access to a variety of professional resources to help cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools, and districts.

For more information on the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards, visit www.mff.org or the Alabama State Department of Education’s website at www.alsde.edu.

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