NEWS RELEASES 2010-11 :: NOVEMBER 30, 2010


Kim James, a special education resource teacher at Triangle Lake Montessori Elementary School (Guilford County Schools), today received what some call the "Oscar of Teaching" when she was named North Carolina's 2010 Milken Family Foundation National Educator award recipient.

State Superintendent June Atkinson made the surprise announcement during a school-wide assembly. James is among the nation's 55 most recent 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 2,500 past recipients from across the nation. James is the only North Carolina educator to receive the award this year.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said she looks forward to participating in this annual recognition event. "It is such an honor and privilege to recognize exemplary public school teachers; and I'm thrilled to be able to present Kim with this award," Atkinson said. "Her love and passion for helping all children not only do their best but be their best is highly evident. We are so fortunate to have teachers like Kim in our public school classrooms." North Carolina has participated in Milken for the past 16 years.

An independent, blue ribbon committee appointed by each state's department of education selects the potential award recipients for submission to the Milken Foundation. Predetermined criteria 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-term potential for professional and policy leadership; and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

James is noted for knowing the best instructional practices for her students. She stays current with research-based strategies and challenges her colleagues to do the same. She spearheaded the use of SRA and Reading Mastery for her exceptional children students, which yielded significant gains in reading. She then led the team that implemented the reading program for the entire school and, as a result, students demonstrated growth in reading on end-of-grade assessments. Triangle Lake Montessori School Principal Cheri Keels described James as one of the "hardest working, most dedicated persons she knew. Kim spends endless time and effort working with every child. She doesn't just teach children, she changes lives."

James earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Wake Forest University in 1993, a Special Education license from North Carolina A&T State University in 2005 and is pursuing a master's degree in Education Leadership from Western Governors University. She is a member of the Guilford County Association of Educators and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and serves on a number of committees including the Guilford County Schools' Superintendent's Teacher Advisory Council and the Board of Advisors for North Carolina A&T State University.

James will join 54 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 to inspire talented young people to consider teaching as a career. In addition to the financial award and educational networking opportunities, the Milken Family Foundation provides recipients with a variety of professional resources to help them cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools and districts. They also receive an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles, Calif. to attend the annual Milken National Education Conference.

"Our society's most important profession is teaching as it informs all others," said Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation. "We created the Milken Educator Awards to proclaim in a very public way that greatness in education must be recognized and rewarded."

The Milken National Educator Awards were established in 1985 to reward, retain and attract the highest caliber professionals for our nation's schools. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators. To date, 45 North Carolina educators have received this award, sharing a total of $1.1 million. Nationally, over $62 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 160 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.