Milken Educator Awards

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the "Oscars of Teaching" has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers, but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America's next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe, "The future belongs to the educated."

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals, and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.

The cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways; for instance, on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even on the adoption of children.

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Michigan's 2019 Milken Award Winner - Nick Peruski

Nick Peruski, a high school teacher and career and technical education (CTE) coordinator department at Lakeland High School in White Lake, received the 2019 Milken Educator Award on Friday, December 6, 2019.

Nick Peruski receives his 2019 Milken Award

Nick Peruski is committed to preparing his students to thrive in the working world. He brings people in a wide variety of careers and industries into his classroom, both in person and via Skype, to introduce students to as many options as possible. Students in Peruski’s project-based classroom write and present business plans through Virtual Enterprises International, an educational nonprofit that offers business courses for students. Peruski has presented at the district level about the value of CTE and takes students to visit businesses on field trips, including some in New York City. He uses social media to highlight the action in his classroom, eager to keep parents, the community and former students engaged. Peruski helps students with their resumes, coaches them in mock interviews and connects students with job opportunities in the community.

Peruski is known as an outside-the-box thinker dedicated to helping students learn and succeed. In his previous role leading the math department at nearby Muir Middle School, Peruski advocated for and piloted standards-based grading, now used throughout the building. He has served on building and district committees focused on instructional technology, evaluation, policy advocacy and finance. A respected teacher leader, Peruski mentors new teachers and coaches veterans. He participated in the Galileo Leadership Consortium; taught at China’s University of Science and Technology in Beijing, where he developed curriculum for an international school; and presented at an international conference in Lithuania.

A deep believer in equality and respect for all students, Peruski advises LINK, Lakeland’s student peer mentoring program. Students feel they can trust and confide in him. Peruski holds high expectations for his pupils, but they eagerly stretch to meet them.

Peruski earned a bachelor’s in integrated science in 2010, a master’s in instructional technology in 2015 from Eastern Michigan University, and an Education Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership in 2019 from Oakland University.