POSTED: 1:02 p.m. HST, Mar 3, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 3:43 p.m. HST, Mar 3, 2014
An unsuspecting science teacher was surprised during an assembly at a Kalihi middle school on Monday morning when she was named a recipient of the national Milken Educator Award, which recognizes outstanding excellence in education and includes a $25,000 cash prize.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie made the announcement about the award -- presented to Michelle Kay -- before more than 1,000 students gathered at the assembly to celebrate achievement gains at Kalakaua Middle. Also in attendance were state Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 1994 Milken Educator recipient from Indiana.
The Milken award -- the only one presented in Hawaii this school year -- will be given to 40 of outstanding secondary school educators in 2013-14.
Kay, who teaches eighth grade, has been instrumental in building interest and participation in science programs such as fairs, robotics and aquaponics since arriving at Kalakaua Middle in 2011. Colleagues say her passion and enthusiasm in the classroom, combined with relevant and engaging science lessons, motivate and challenge all students to keep improving.
She is credited with spearheading a VEX Bots Program that has captivated students and qualified the school for national and international events such as the 2013 VEX Robotics World Championships in Anaheim, Calif.
Founded by Lowell Milken to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession, the Milken Educator Awards are dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine. Since 1987, the Milken Family Foundation, co-founded by Michael and Lowell Milken, has devoted more than $136 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards, including more than $64 million in individual awards to nearly 2,600 recipients plus professional development opportunities and networking with education stakeholders.