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Press Release

Friday, November 4, 2011

Barbara Bowers
(310) 488-3994 (cell)

$25,000 National Milken Educator Award Surprises Maynard Evans High School Teacher

Math teacher Cecilio Fowler honored with "Oscar of Teaching"

Orlando, FL - A seemingly routine schoolwide assembly turned into the surprise of a lifetime when the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) honored-and stunned-Cecilio Fowler, a math teacher at Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, with a Milken Educator Award. Presented by Dr. Jane Foley, Senior Vice President of Milken Educator Awards, and Gerard Robinson, Florida Commissioner of Education, the Award comes with a no-strings-attached cash prize of $25,000.

This year marks MFF's 25th anniversary recognizing and rewarding America's top teachers with what Teacher Magazine deemed "the Oscars of Teaching." The Awards program was conceived by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Educator Awards has no formal nomination or application process. Each year exceptional teachers, principals and specialists-recommended without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state's department of education-are surprised with the news of their awards.

"Our public education system is at the heart of America's promise and is essential in safeguarding the American dream for future generations. With research confirming that an effective teacher is the single most important school-related factor in raising student achievement, it is clear to see the critical role that outstanding teachers play in shaping our country," said Lowell Milken. "We created the Milken Educator Awards to proclaim in a very public way that greatness in education must be recognized and rewarded. As the program's motto extols, 'the future belongs to the educated.' Cecilio Fowler is an education game-changer who empowers students and teachers to exceed their own expectations of what is possible. He is an inspiration and example for communities, policymakers, and students who may be inspired to enter the profession, and for all of our nation's K-12 educators."

Even though this year only marks his second at Evans High, Fowler is a natural pro. A former postal worker who held tenure in the juvenile justice system, Fowler opted to work in a challenging school because he felt he could make a meaningful difference in his students' lives. His demonstration classroom is an archetype of efficiency and industriousness. Fowler's room was selected because of his effective use of the gradual release model. He not only encourages, but also expects his students to engage in peer-to-peer partnerships. Fowler works with students who have never experienced academic success and helps them triumph, which effectively builds their confidence to move forward.

When it comes to achievement, Fowler's students' scores rose from 19 percent on target to 56 percent on target in fall and winter benchmark exams. At his previous school, Fowler logged the highest learning gains in algebra, earning performance bonuses for surpassing the 70 percent mark. Fowler routinely welcomes his fellow teachers into his classroom. He is the Great Beginnings trainer for new teacher induction/orientation at Evans High and participated in Harvard's Teaching for Understanding online professional development. Schooled in such collaborative strategies as Kagan, IB and AVID, Fowler also served as a teacher mentor for the Alternative Certification Program and mentors pupils in math and non-academic activities.

The Awards story doesn't end with the surprise notification. New recipients are invited to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of distinguished educators whose expertise serves as a valuable resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education.

Since first presented to a dozen California teachers, the Milken Educator Awards program has grown to become the nation's preeminent teacher recognition program having honored more than 2,500 teachers, principals and specialists with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards. A total of $137 million has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout the recipients' careers in education. The exponential impact of the more than 2,500 outstanding teachers has helped to reform American K-12 education. The Milken Awards alternates yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Each participating state department of education appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to review candidates that are sourced through a confidential selection process and recommend candidates to the Foundation.

Award Criteria:
Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected on the basis of the following criteria:
  • 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;
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call the Foundation at (310) 570-4775. You can follow the Foundation at, and Take a peek at the surprise of a lifetime that awaits up to 40 of America's best educators:

An education reformer for three decades, Lowell Milken created the Milken Educator Awards to recognize exemplary teachers and established TAPô: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement to generate more talented teachers, Lowell Milken recently provided the founding gift for the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. For more information about Lowell visit