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Stager Receives Milken Family Foundation Award

photo of Nami Stager
Nami Stager, an alumna of the University of Kentucky College of Education, was named Kentucky’s newest recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which includes a financial award of $25,000. This year more than 50 educators nationwide were selected as winners, and Stager was the only honoree from Kentucky.

A 4th-grade science teacher at Northern Elementary in Fayette County, Stager was notified of her award when Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, Milken Family Foundation representative Tom Boysen and local dignitaries made a surprise visit to her school.

Stager, who earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UK, has taught at Northern for three years working to integrate science into other subject areas and collaborating with her fellow teachers for cross-curricular units. She developed reading, mathematics and science units for elementary schools in the Fayette County school district and is a member of the Fayette County Superintendant Advisory Council.

“When you hear Nami talk about her philosophy of education you know she is right and that it makes sense,” Northern Elementary Principal Meredith Dunn said. “She has incredibly high expectations for every student. She is rigorous in her teaching and truly believes that each child can reach above and beyond.”

“Nami believes the foundation for being a good teacher is the ability to build positive relationships,” said Julie Hawkins, elementary supervisor for Fayette County. “She has that ability as she works with parents, colleagues and the community. The foundation she has makes her very successful.”

Stager will receive her award at the Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference in Los Angeles in May 2011. The award provides public recognition and financial reward to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and other education professionals. The foundation was established in 1985, and the first awards given in 1987. Kentucky has participated since 1993, with 51 recipients since then.

The Milken Educator Network is a voluntary association of nearly 2,000 Milken Educators and other exemplary educators and business leaders from across the country who are dedicated to improving teacher quality and utilizing research and expertise to shape education policy at state and local levels.

The Milken Family Foundation, based in Santa Monica, Calif., was established in 1982 to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in education and medical research.

Special thanks to Lisa Gross, Kentucky Department of Education, for providing this story.