Milken Educator Award Winners in Ohio

The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards program honors outstanding teachers and administrators in 48 states, including Ohio, and the District of Columbia. Awards are presented to elementary (grades K-5) and secondary (grades 6-12) school educators in alternate years. Each Milken Educator receives an unrestricted award of $25,000.


Sarah Franko, a fifth-grade teacher at North Royalton Middle School in the North Royalton City Schools district, became Ohio's 2013 Milken National Educator Award winner in November.  She joins more than 2,600 educators from across the country who have received this designation since 1987.

Sixty-three Ohio teachers have been honored with the award since Ohio joined the program in 1992. Our state's recipients from the past several years are described below. In addition, read about more winners by choosing the state and the year in the dropdown boxes on the Milken Family Foundation website.  

[Biographies and photos below are courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation. Biographies were current at the time of the awards.]

2013 Milken Educator

Sarah Franko

Sarah-Franko-reaction-web.jpgThe first year that Franko taught fifth-grade science, her inquiry-based instructional approach resulted in her students’ science scores jumping from 76 to 86 percent. As fifth-grade team coordinator, she developed an online virtual space to bring parents closer to their child’s schoolwork and activities. A mentor of beginning teachers, she serves on the school’s Resident Educator committee, and its Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction committee.

Franko co-leads the student Green Team and chairs the school’s annual Field Day competitions. She also headed a school-wide initiativethat raised more than $4,000 to benefit H2O for Life, an organization thatengages youth in activities addressing the global water crisis. She is athree-time presenter at the Ohio Middle Level Association State Conference.

Melissa Vojta, Franko’s principal, said, “What impresses me most about her is her ability to give 100 percent to both her home and school life. I can’t think of a more deserving teacher for this award than Sarah Franko.”


2012 Milken Educator

Crystal Dozier

Crystal DozierThird-grade students are spellbound by Spaulding Elementary School’s Crystal Dozier of Goshen, Ohio. Dozier holds high expectations for her students, encouraging them to press ahead and challenge themselves.  A natural leader, she promotes a culture in which everyone can succeed, regardless of learning styles.  

Dozier uses data to drive instruction, then tracks and analyzes data through formative assessments. She integrates technology into daily lessons, further preparing her students for success in the 21st century. In a testament to her talent, Spaulding Elementary’s third-grade students exceed state averages in reading and math, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s latest data from the 2010-2011 school year.

Beyond the classroom, Dozier is a member of the Race to the Top transformation team and the Technology Evaluation team.  She furthers her own education as well, currently taking gifted endorsement classes at the University of Cincinnati, where the professor shares a video of Dozier’s teaching as an example.

2011 Milken Educator

Brian Page

Brian PageBrian Page is deeply passionate about financial literacy. Among the many merits of his value-oriented instruction, Page shows students how to set fiscal goals and manage their funds. Community members visit his classes to demonstrate the importance of planning for the future and understanding dollars and cents. Page sets up Skype chats with CEOs, economists and politicians when the experts can’t come in person.

Page is known for innovations, simulations and games that capture kids’ attention and help them grasp concepts. He created and copyrighted an educational board game to use in class, authored his own personal finance curriculum (now used districtwide) and developed a specialized reading library. Page also launched TeenDollars, a nationally recognized, student-run financial literacy organization, as well as a student-run school bookstore. One hundred percent of Page’s students passed the National Test of Financial Education, conducted by the Department of the Treasury.

Leadership posts include key roles on the Ohio Commission for Personal Finance Education and the Financial Literacy Steering Committee for the Ohio Department of Education. Page presented at a national conference for financial educators. He partners with the University of Cincinnati to provide his students with college credit. A trailblazer in business education, Page served as a curriculum specialist at the University's Economics Center from 2009 to 2011.

2010 Milken Educator

Kristina Blair

Kristina BlairPresenting her third- and fourth-grade students with a wealth of inventive opportunities to expand their educational horizons, Kristina Blair is a dynamic teacher who puts the “fun” in fundamentals at Franklin Elementary in Massillon, OH. Blair designs innovative interdisciplinary units that bring learning to life. She has been able—through her own fundraising efforts—to take her students to places that they might not otherwise see. Activities have included tailgate parties, after-testing community festivals, even field trips to places such as New York, Chicago and Williamsburg, Virginia.

Since 2005, 100 percent of her pupils have made benchmarks on math and reading state assessments. Adept at making all learning relevant, interesting and concrete, Blair is credited with helping her school move from “improvement” to “effective” status. She always applies best practices and actively involves parents in order to connect learning at home with learning at school. Professionally, she exhibits strong leadership skills at the school and district levels. A mentor to other teachers, she is a building-level instructional team leader and serves on the field trip committee. Blair also sits on various district-level committees and acted as interim gifted coordinator for three months during a transition period. She also helps guide literacy in the district and facilitates learning teams sponsored by the Ohio Department of Education. A committed lifelong learner, she attends many conferences to stay abreast of educational trends. Well-respected in her school, community and district, Blair remains committed to enhancing her expertise while enriching her students’ lives.

2009 Milken Educator

Jennifer McCalla

Jennifer McCallaPart of what makes Jennifer McCalla’s math classes so successful, is her emphasis on math’s direct relationship with her students’ futures. The other part is the exceptional way she delivers knowledge. At Normandy High School in Parma, OH, McCalla gives her students the tools to excel in math, as well as the understanding of why it’s important to do so. McCalla makes every effort to show her students that math plays a critical role in daily living. She takes her students to a local symposium on women in math where they interact with successful career women in mathematics professions. She designed a “Hollywood box office” inside her classroom where students bought tickets and evaluated data on ticket sales. To make sure her curriculum is aligned realistically with state standards, McCalla partners with Michigan State University and reviews syllabi for lower-division math classes. AP calculus average scores at Normandy high are 4.47 out of 5, and its students have the highest math scores in the district. The entire Math department achieved over 93% proficiency on the 2008-09 graduation exam. As chair of the math department, real learning and real results seem to be McCalla’s specialties. 

2008 Milken Educator

Stacey Timmons Higgins

Stacey Timmons HigginsAs a new second-grade teacher at Ridge Elementary School, a diverse Title I school in Bowling Green, Ohio, Stacia (Stacey) Higgins brings with her nearly a decade's worth of experience as Ridge's former reading specialist. From her first year of teaching at Ridge in 1999, Higgins has been instrumental in dramatically raising Ridge's literacy achievement levels. Working closely with colleagues, Higgins reinforced the skills, vocabulary and themes taught in the regular classroom while helping teachers plan and implement special reading and language arts activities. She organizes an annual Free Book Fair at Ridge, encouraging summer reading by providing books that she acquires through grants. She has also coordinated school visits by children's authors and illustrators such as Mike Wimmer, Will Hillenbrand and Patrick O'Brien. A member of the Regional Literacy Team, Higgins has served on the Ohio Department of Education's Content Advisory Committee for the fourth-grade reading achievement test, as well as regional and district-level committees. A frequent presenter at national conferences, university institutes and districtwide in-services, Higgins also facilitates online courses through the University of Akron's eReads Ohio program.

For more information about the award's history, goals and recipients, and to see photos of this year's national conference and award winners, visit the Milken Family Foundation website.  


Last Modified: 11/20/2013 5:03:32 PM