When Shannon Landefeld attended a morning assembly at Tulip Grove Elementary School this morning, she had no idea that she was the guest of honor and that she would walk away with a $25,000 award. Surprised, in front of students, faculty, and staff, the 1st-grade teacher at the Prince George’s County public school, graciously accepted the Milken Award from Jane Foley, Senior Vice President of the Milken Educator Awards and Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, during a surprise school assembly. Landefeld, an educator for nine years, is free to use the no-strings attached cash prize in any manner she chooses. She will receive the actual monetary award this spring at the Milken National Education Conference in Los Angeles.
“I am truly impressed by Shannon Landefeld’s teaching style that incorporates technology, art, music, and writing to enhance her student’s strengths,” said Dr. Grasmick. “She clearly understands the importance of individualizing instruction according to each student’s needs. Shannon is opening the window of learning for her 1st –grade students giving them the confidence to want to succeed in school.”
"We are extremely proud to have one of our exceptional teachers honored through a national awards program," said Verjeana M. Jacobs, Esq., Prince George's County Board of Education Chair. “A teacher's successes are significant and lasting for our students and for the future of our county.”
Hailed as “the Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards were conceived by Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder, to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter teaching. Unlike most teaching awards, the Milken Educator Awards have no formal nomination or application process. Each year exceptional teachers and principals can be recommended without their knowledge. The Milken Foundation makes a final decision on its Award recipients.
“Nothing in America’s k-12 schools has more influence on student learning than the quality of the classroom teacher,” said Mr. Milken. “Highly effective teachers are the bedrock in constructing a world-class education system that meets our challenges and opportunities in this 21st century. It is a national imperative that we attract, retain and motivate people of talent to the profession. America’s prosperity depends on it.”
This year’s honorees will propel the ranks of recipients to more than 2,300 with financial prizes topping $60 million. Established in 1985, the Award alternates yearly between elementary and secondary educators. The 2008 recipients will actually receive their $25,000 checks during the Milken National Education Conference held April 17-19 in Los Angeles. They will also 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.
“Tulip Grove is a great school with an ‘all star cast’ but no one in Prince George’s County shines brighter than Shannon. She is a model teacher for all the others,” said Brian Baudoin, Principal of Tulip Grove Elementary School. “She really understands how children learn which makes her an outstanding teacher.”
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;
- Strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
- Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.
To date, 53 Maryland educators have been honored by the Milken Family Foundation with more than $1.1 million since the state began participating 15 years ago.