UPDATE: Check out photo gallery here.
Rachel Willis, a third-grade teacher at Morningside Elementary School, was the surprise recipient of a $25,000 national educator award this morning from the Milken Family Foundation. This prestigious award was presented to Willis by Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, during an assembly of teachers and students at Morningside Elementary School. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Kathy Augustine and interim Georgia Superintendent of Schools Brad Bryant also participated in the event. (Check out Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog post here.)
Willis, who is a product of APS and was the district’s 2009 Elementary School Teacher of the Year, cried as the surprise announcement was made in front of hundreds of students and dozens of her colleagues, who had gathered in the school’s auditorium for what was advertised as a speech by the Georgia superintendent of schools.
The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards provide recognition and unrestricted financial awards of $25,000 to exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in the nation’s schools. The foundation will dispense more than $1.3 million in cash awards to 55 of America’s finest educators this year. Award winners also receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to participate in the Milken Educator Forum, which is focused on innovative strategies for advancing teacher effectiveness.
Meadowcreek Elementary School second-grade teacher Kelly Stoop (in Norcross, Ga.) was the other national award winner from the state this year.