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NEWS RELEASES 2003-04 :: OCTOBER 10, 2003


If you're a North Carolina public school teacher, your reward for a job well done usually comes in the form of praise from your principal, a note of thanks from a parent or an excited smile from a student. Although each is greatly appreciated, none comes close to an unrestricted check in the amount of $25,000. Amy Vaughn, an English teacher at Freedom High School, Burke County Schools, found out today just how good that feels when she was named a 2003 Milken Family Foundation National Educator.

State Superintendent Mike Ward made today's surprise notification during a school-wide assembly. Vaughn is 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 nearly 2,000 past recipients from around the nation. Two North Carolina educators received the award this year.

Superintendent Ward said that he was delighted to have the opportunity, through the Milken Family Foundation, to recognize such outstanding educators. "Amy Vaughn is an outstanding example as to why our public school students made such incredible academic progress this year. She exemplifies what a ‘High Quality' teacher is under No Child Left Behind. This is our tenth year of recognizing excellence in education through the Milken Family Foundation, and I'm proud to acknowledge the vision and dedication Amy brings to the profession," he said.

An independent blue-ribbon committee appointed by each state's Department of Education selects the recipients for the award. 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.

Colleagues of Vaughn say she holds high expectations for all of her students and provides them with creative strategies to exercise higher level thinking skills. She encourages student projects that integrate cross-curricular subjects and motivates students to delve deeper into the subject matter. She has served as an English I Train the Trainer and as a mentor to younger teachers. Her dedication to the teaching profession led her to take on the additional responsibility of beginning Freedom High School's Teacher Cadet program. She finds time to be active in the community through the Good Samaritan Clinic and encourages her students to give back through volunteering.

Vaughn has been selected Freedom High School's Teacher of the Year and as the N.C. Association for the Gifted and Talented's Teacher of the Year. She is National Board Certified, a member of the educational sorority Delta Kappa Gamma, PAGE for Gifted Students, and North Carolina Association of Educators and is Teacher Cadet Trained. She is highly respected in her school, community and church.

Vaughn will join Chris Monte, a teacher at J.F. Webb High School in Granville County Schools, and 98 other educators in 47 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 Washington, D.C., in May 2004 for the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference.

"By choosing to practice in the most noble and important profession, our nation's talented educators make a lasting contribution to young people's minds, imaginations and character," said Foundation President Lowell Milken." We are proud to honor the outstanding work of these gifted teachers, providing them with the recognition they so richly deserve."

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, 37 North Carolina educators have received this award, sharing a total of $925,000. Nationally, over $49 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 310.570.4775 or visit the Milken Family Foundation Web site, For information about the awards presented in North Carolina, contact Dan Holloman, Center for Recruitment and Retention, DPI, 919.807.3375, or by email,

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.