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NEWS RELEASES 2005-06 :: NOVEMBER 15, 2005


Aimee Niebauer, an eighth grade teacher at West Millbrook Middle School (Wake County Schools), probably started her morning thinking that it was going to be a pretty typical school day. Little did she know that her day was going to be anything but ordinary or that she would become North Carolina's 2005 Milken Family Foundation National Educator award recipient.

State Superintendent June Atkinson made the surprise announcement during a school-wide assembly. Niebauer 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 over 2,100 past recipients from across the nation who serve as both expert resources and collaborators to network members. Niebauer was the only North Carolina educator to receive the award this year.

Superintendent Atkinson said that she was delighted to participate in this year's notifications. "Aimee Niebauer is a wonderful example of the phenomenal teachers we are so fortunate to have leading our classrooms." This was Atkinson's first year in participating in Milken, although North Carolina has been a participant for the past 11 years. "Participating in Milken is truly a humbling experience. I am honored to have had the opportunity to recognize such an exemplary teacher as Aimee and the dedication, creativity and drive she brings to the classroom," Atkinson 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 effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school; exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession; strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

Niebauer is noted for being motivational, hands on and caring. She has high academic and behavioral expectations for her class. Her classroom is noted for having high energy and as a place where students actively engage in meaningful learning experiences be it through literacy circles, attending a dinner party in character, collecting evidence as Sherlock Holmes may have done, or openly discussing challenging issues such as bullying. Her "Big Bucks" program rewards students for good behavior and students can cash in their big bucks for books or class-related materials.

Earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1998 from State University of New York College at Fredonia, Niebauer is currently pursing a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction from North Carolina State University. She has served as a team leader, facilitated staff development as a Quality Tools coordinator, and participated on the Student Support Team. She also mentors beginning teachers, tutors in the after school Accelerated Learning Program and serves as delegate leader for the People to People Student Ambassador Program where she facilitates monthly student and parent meetings to prepare students for travel overseas. This summer, she will be taking a group of students to Europe. A member of the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society and a 2004-05 West Millbrook Middle School Teacher of the Year, Niebauer is highly regarded by colleagues for her professionalism and her determination to make a difference.

Niebauer will join 99 other educators in 48 states and the District of Columbia as the latest recipients of this prestigious award, which was established to provide exceptional K-12 educators with public recognition and inspire talented young people to consider teaching as a career. 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 2006 for the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference.

"Excellence must not be the exception in our schools, but rather the norm. Talented teachers are the key to ensuring high-quality educational opportunities for all students," Foundation President Lowell Milken said. "By recognizing and rewarding outstanding educators each year, we focus the nation's attention on the critical need to attract, retain and motivate caring, capable people to the American teaching profession."

Dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were established 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, 40 North Carolina educators have received this award, sharing a total of $1 million. Nationally, over $54 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, please contact the NCDPI's Communications Division at 919.807.3450.

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.