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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: OCTOBER 8, 2002


If you're a North Carolina public school teacher, your reward for a job well done usually comes in the form of a well-deserved pat on the back from your principal, a note of thanks from a parent or a hug from a student. Although each is greatly appreciated, none comes close to an unrestricted check in the amount of $25,000. Lara Cabaniss, a K-5 Curriculum Specialist at Fred L. Wilson Elementary School, Kannapolis City Schools; and Julie Barbee, a third/fourth grade combination teacher at Locust Elementary School, Stanly County Schools, found out just how good that feels when they were both named a 2002 Milken Family Foundation National Educator.

Today's surprise notifications were made by State Superintendent Mike Ward during school-wide assemblies. Cabaniss and Barbee are among the 100 newest recipients of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which carries with it an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 and membership in a network of almost 1,800 past recipients from around the nation. Only two North Carolina educators received the award this year.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said that he was delighted to have the opportunity, through the Milken Family Foundation, to recognize such outstanding educators. "North Carolina is well on its way to being first in America in education and we can thank outstanding educators such as Lara Cabaniss and Julie Barbee for leading the way. This is our ninth year of recognizing excellence in education through the Milken Family Foundation, and I'm proud to acknowledge the vision and dedication Lara and Julie bring to the profession," he said.

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 as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school and profession; outstanding accomplishment and strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

Cabaniss and Barbee will join 100 other educators in 46 states as the latest recipients of this prestigious award, which was established to provide public and financial recognition to teachers, principals, and other education professionals who are advancing excellence in education. In addition to the financial award and educational networking opportunities, recipients are provided with a variety of professional resources to help them cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools, and districts. They also will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles in June 2003 for the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference.

"Outstanding educators are the essential ingredient in student achievement, encouraging children to perform to their fullest abilities and to develop a love of learning," said Foundation President Lowell Milken. "Each and every day, these educators provide students with the confidence and tools to succeed."

Dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were created in 1985 to reward, retain and attract the highest caliber professionals to our nation's schools. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators. To date, 35 North Carolina educators have received this award, sharing a total of $875,000. Nationally, $46.9 million has been awarded since the program's inception.

To receive additional information on the Milken Educator Awards, the National Education Conference, or other Milken Family Foundation programs, please call 310.998.2800 or visit the Milken Family Foundation Web site, For information about the awards presented in North Carolina, contact Cecil Banks, Center for Recruitment and Retention, DPI, 919.807.3375.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.