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November 28, 2005

Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Milken National Educator Award Presented to Monroe County Teacher
Key Largo School teacher Kathleen O'Connor recognized as an outstanding Florida teacher

KEY LARGO — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced Kathleen O'Connor, a seventh and eighth grade Reading and Language Arts teacher at the Key Largo School in Monroe County, as a recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. O'Connor was presented with a $25,000 award by State Board of Education member Donna Callaway at a school assembly. Recipients are presented their award check at the annual Milken National Education Conference, an all-expense-paid professional development conference held in Washington, D.C.

"Kathleen is a shining star among thousands of outstanding teachers throughout the state and we thank her for her commitment and dedication to her students," said Commissioner Winn. "It is a privilege to honor her as a Milken Educator and recognize her outstanding contributions to the education profession in Florida."

The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, dubbed the "Oscar of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, was created in 1985 by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken to reward, retain and attract outstanding K-12 educators to the profession. The award has since become the largest teacher recognition program in the nation, recognizing over 2,100 educators from throughout the country.

O'Connor has been a teacher for eight years and teaches several inclusion classrooms. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Exceptional Student Education and recently completed her Master's Degree in Reading. O'Connor is a National Board certified teacher, serves on the District Induction Steering Committee and delivers professional development modules to beginning teachers. She will join the Milken Educator Network, a coalition of more than 2,100 top educators who serve as expert resources and partners to help cultivate and expand innovative programs in classrooms, schools, and districts nationwide.

An independent committee appointed by the Florida Department of Education makes nominations to the Milken Foundation from which final selections are made. Predetermined criteria for the award include:

  • exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school, and profession;
  • exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
  • strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
  • engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues, and the community.

The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award celebrates and rewards educators who make great strides in improving our education system by fostering professional development and career enhancement, encourages Milken educators to shape education policy in their state, elevates the teaching profession through public recognition of excellence, and encourages talented men and women to enter the field of education.

For more information about the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards, please visit