• Whitman Elementary teacher earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award

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    Janet Do was taken by surprise at a school assembly, where it was announced she had been chosen for a Milken Educator Award. (Photo by Beth Conyers)

    When Janet Do arrived at her job at Whitman Elementary School on Monday, she had no idea what awaited her. Do, a first-grade teacher, was awarded a $25,000 Milken Educator Award in a surprise ceremony at the Southeast Portland school.

    The ceremony included Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and Chief of Schools Kregg Cuellar as well as Carmen Xiomara Urbina, deputy director with the Oregon Department of Education.

    “She’s an excellent teacher,” said Helen Nolen, Whitman’s interim principal. “She works really well with her colleagues, is well respected and is doing a great job of building a community of learners.”

    The Milken Educator Awards, for K-12 educators, were created 30 years ago by the Milken Family Foundation. They target “early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.” In addition to the monetary prize, winners gain access to networking and development tools throughout their careers.

    The Milkens are sometimes called the "Oscars of Teaching" because they are presented in surprise ceremonies. Candidates are identified through a confidential process, and educators cannot apply and are not aware they are under consideration. They are judged on a set of criteria  by a panel appointed by state departments of education, with final approval by the foundation.

    Do became the 12th Portland Public Schools educator to win a Milken. The previous PPS winners (some of the schools have changed names or no longer exist):

    • Teresa Chan Seidel, Robert Gray Middle Scholl, 2013
    • Bonnie E. Robb, Clark School, 2008
    • Elisa Schorr, Pursuit of Wellness Education at Roosevelt High School, 2007
    • Tamala M.W. Newsome, John Ball Elementary School, 2004
    • Judy Madden Bryant, Humboldt Elementary School, 2002
    • Cynthia MacLeod, Sabin Elementary School, 1996
    • Michael Jordan, Sabin Early Childhood Education Center, 1994
    • Robin Lindsley, Boise-Eliot Elementary School, 1994
    • Alcena Boozer, Jefferson High School, 1993
    • Betty Campbell, Boise-Eliot Elementary School, 1991
    • Deanna Woods, Wilson High School, 1991

    See more photos from Monday's ceremony

    The ceremony was covered extensively by local media. The reports:

    -- 'Fantastic' Portland teacher wins $25,000 for outstanding work (OregonLive)
    -- Whitman teacher wins 25K Milken Award (KOIN)
    -- Whitman Elementary teacher wins Milken Educator Award (KATU)
    -- Portland teacher receives $25,000 reward (KGW)
    -- Portland elementary teacher wins $25K for outstanding work (KPTV)