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