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December 1, 2005

Jennifer Fennell
(850) 245-0413

Milken National Educator Award Presented to Pasco County Teacher
Land O' Lakes High School teacher Jeff Morgenstein recognized as an outstanding Florida teacher

LAND O' LAKES — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today announced Jeff Morgenstein, a modern language, ESOL, and English Literature teacher at Land O’ Lakes High School in Pasco County, as a recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. Morgenstein was presented with the $25,000 award by K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Cheri Yecke and Milken Family Foundation Sr. Vice President and Senior Scholar Dr. Lewis Solomon 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.

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

The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, dubbed the "Oscars 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.

Morgenstein has been a teacher since 1990. He is a teacher of Spanish and French, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and English Literature. Originally trained in the development and delivery of the language arts, Morgenstein pursued the ESOL endorsement to work with students new to the United States. He also is the Spanish instructor for students in the International Baccalaureate program. Morgenstein has authored several software products for foreign language at the high school and college levels and mentors educators new to the profession, including working in conjunction with the University of South Florida to strengthen the beginning teacher experience. In 2000, Morgenstein was the recipient of a Spanish Embassy and Florida Department of Education study scholarship to Spain.

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