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Press Release

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Milken Award, Dubbed the “Oscar of Teaching,” Presented to Miami-Dade Elementary School Teacher

~ LaKenya Sanders-Sharpe recognized for exceptional work with students ~

MIAMI – Florida’s Deputy Chancellor of Educator Quality Pam Stewart was on hand in Miami today to congratulate Math and Science Facilitator LaKenya Sanders-Sharpe for her extraordinary achievement in teaching. Ms. Sanders-Sharpe of Van E. Blanton Elementary School is a recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. Ms. Sanders-Sharpe received her $25,000 award during a surprise school assembly at Blanton Elementary School. Co-workers and education officials nominated Sanders-Sharpe for her creative and enthusiastic teaching methods, the increased academic achievement of her students, her strong presence as a role model and her proven commitment to the teaching profession.

“Recipients of this honor transcend traditional teaching methods and spark a passion for learning in their students; qualities that LaKenya Sanders-Sharpe has demonstrated throughout her career,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “She is an exceptional leader, and truly epitomizes the valuable work that teachers do.”

Ms. Sanders-Sharpe began her teaching career in the Chicago Public Schools system in 2002 and joined Miami-Dade County Public Schools in 2005 as a 4th and 5th grade teacher. As a Math and Science Facilitator, she finds ways to transform the complexities of these subjects into concepts that her students are able to understand and apply.

The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, dubbed the “Oscar of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, was created in 1987 by 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 more than 2,300 distinguished educators across the country. Since Florida’s inception into the program in 1998, Milken has recognized 35 educators and awarded more than $875,000.

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 the following:

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

In addition to the $25,000 award, recipients attend the annual Milken National Education Conference, an all-expense-paid professional development conference held in Los Angeles in the spring. They also join the Milken Educator Network, a valuable resource of fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others in shaping the future of education.

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