Only 40 educators a year win the prestigious Milken Educator Award—an award so special that it is known as the “Oscar of teaching.” This year, San Antonio math middle school teacher Laura Servin couldn’t believe it when her name was called as a winner at a school assembly.
Both teachers and students assembled to hear the Governor and state Education Commissioner speak about the success of Whittier Middle School. However, several minutes into the assembly, the president and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, Gary Stark, told those assembled that one teacher was about to receive the Milken award.
Servin is the only person in Texas to receive the award this year. Known as a highly devoted teacher, Servin’s algebra students have a 100% passing rate on the state exam. This statistic is even more impressive considering that 94% of the school’s students are economically disadvantaged. With 98% of the students being Hispanic, Servin talks to her students and their parents in Spanish and English.
The Milken award provides $25,000 to be spent as the winner chooses. In addition, awardees receive national recognition almost unmatched among teachers. The award is often a steppingstone to prominent state and national positions.
A San Antonio teacher last won the Milken prize in 2008. In that case, a kindergarten teacher won the award. Servin is the 6th teacher from San Antonio to have won a Milken award. She expects to spend the money on her baby who is due in July. Servin also wants to treat her students to a party.
The education department in each state appoints a panel to nominate candidates who have no idea that they have even been nominated. This was clearly the case for Laura Servin who by all accounts thoroughly deserves her Milken award.