When Kelly Smith attended a morning assembly at Dulaney High School, she did not know she was the guest of honor or that it would make her $25,000 richer.
Surprised and delighted in front of beaming students and teachers, Smith happily accepted a $25,000 prize today from Milken Family Foundation President Lowell Milken and Maryland State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick during a surprise school assembly. Also in attendance for the surprise announcement was Hollywood Actor and President of The Black Family Channel Robert Townsend, Baltimore County Executive James Smith, and Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Hairston.
Smith, an educator for 18 years, is free to use the no-strings attached cash prize in any manner she chooses. Smith will receive the actual monetary award at the Milken Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. this April.
"As an English department chair and exemplary teacher, Ms. Smith understands that quality instruction and strong programmatic support are the keys to increased student performance," said Dr. Grasmick. "Kelly is truly worthy of recognition as an exceptional teacher and an accomplished leader.”
“Ms. Smith often has the courage to step forward and address the difficult issues and challenge the status quo…always looking for ways to improve her own performance and the programs created to serve our students and community,” said Mr. Lyle Patzkowsky, principal of Dulaney High School.
The Milken Awards program began in 1985. The program is sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation in cooperation with the Maryland State Department of Education. It is designed to celebrate and reward educators who are making great strides in improving the nation's education system. Its goals are to heighten public recognition of the teaching profession, foster professional development, and encourage talented men and women to enter the field. Recipients cannot apply for the Milken Family Foundation Award. They must be identified by their supervisors, colleagues, and co-workers.
Criteria considered include exceptional talent; distinguished achievement in developing innovative educational curricula, programs, and methods; outstanding ability to develop students’ character and self confidence; and commitment to professional development.
To date, 47 Maryland educators have been honored by the Milken Family Foundation with more than $1 million since the state began participating twelve years ago.