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Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award

The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982. Since then, the Foundation has worked with more than 1,000 organizations in countless ways to share its purpose of discovering inventive ways of helping people help themselves and those around them to lead productive and satisfying lives.
Recipients of the award are selected by an independent blue-ribbon committee appointed by each state’s department of education. Predetermined criteria for the award include exceptional educational talent and promise; distinguished achievement in developing innovative educational curricula, programs and/or teaching methods; outstanding ability to instill in students character and self-confidence, and commitment to professional development.
Lebanon Elementary School Teacher Surprised with Milken Educator Award and $25,000 in Cash

Lebanon, OR — In a school assembly on December 13, 2016 in front of her principal, colleagues, students, school board members, and distinguished community members, Lisa Richard was awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award for the state of Oregon and a gift check of $25,000. 

She is one of up to 35 recipients across the country who will receive the honor during the 2016-17 school year, and the only recipient for Oregon.  The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. Richard is the 78th recipient of the award since Oregon joined the program in 1990, and joins a network of more than 2,600 K-12 educators from across the country.

Richard, who teaches third grade at Pioneer School in Lebanon, puts her heart and soul into teaching every day of the school year, as well as deep into the summer months. Her passion for education stems from her personal struggles during her own school career. Lisa dropped out of high school due to a lack of support, and at the age of 27 went back to school to get her General Education Diploma (GED). She went on to get her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in teaching and has taught with the determination that no child would experience what she did and fall through the cracks unnoticed. 

“Mrs. Richard is a true gift to education and to Lebanon,” said Tonya Cairo, Principal at Pioneer School. “Lisa treats her students and parents like family and her energy and passion has no ‘off switch’! She has the uncanny ability to inspire all those who come in contact with her and I feel honored to have her modeling such amazing character and joy for learning for my students every school day.” 

Lisa was presented with the Milken Educator Award by Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Family Foundation, and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Salam Noor.

“Lisa is the teacher you want every child to experience; a teacher whose energy and passion is infectious,” said Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor. “Lisa is deeply devoted to the profession and to the students she serves. Her classroom is safe, welcoming, and full of life. Students are eager to learn from her, and not afraid to fail.  I am honored to meet Lisa in person and to recognize her with this Milken Educator Award.”

“Lisa Richard’s natural sense of connection and engagement with her students motivates and inspires them to achieve their personal best,” said Dr. Jane Foley. “Lisa’s personal story of resilience and determination embodies the Milken Educator Award’s motto, ‘the future belongs to the educated.’ Through the power of education, Lisa is shaping the next generation of leaders so that they have the opportunities needed to live their dreams.”

The Milken Educator Awards program, which was launched by the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) in 1987, has been described as “the Oscars of teaching” by Teacher magazine. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees. Alternating yearly between elementary and secondary educators, the Milken Awards are sourced through each participating state department of education, which appoints an independent blue ribbon committee to confidentially review candidates for recommendation to MFF.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call the MFF at (310) 570-4772. Be sure to visit Lisa Richard’s page on the Milken website!

The Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation, is in its 30th year. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

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Lisa Richard in the News
Lisa Richard's page (Milken Family Foundation)

Previous Oregon Winners
Search for previous Oregon Milken Educator Award recipients on the Milken Family Foundation website!

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