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Hamilton Teacher Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Hamilton Elementary’s Teacher Nichole Anderson innovates her way to a $25,000 Milken Educator Award

PASADENA, CA —Hamilton Elementary School teacher Nichole Anderson got the surprise of a lifetime at a school assembly where she was presented with a Milken Educator Award by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Brian McDonald. Anderson was named a 2018-19 recipient of the national recognition, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She is the only Milken Educator Award winner from California this year and is among the 33 honorees.

See the surprise announcement

Nichole Anderson smiling Anderson is the third PUSD teacher to win the Milken Educator Award, which is hailed by ‘Teacher” magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching.”  John Muir High School teacher Manuel Rustin won in 2012 and Joshua Tornek, now a teacher at Marshall Fundamental, received the award in 2001.

“A forward-thinking teacher like Nichole Anderson understands the importance of building a technology foundation that helps prepare students for academic and real-world challenges in the 21st century,” said Milken. “She is a welcome addition to the National Milken Educator Network.”

As the computer lab teacher at Hamilton, Anderson helps students build technology skills that support all other areas of learning. Among the many technology skills Anderson shares with her students are: computer and web coding, typing and word processing, 3-D printing, robotics, internet safety, computer graphics creation, online research, and presentation technology. Anderson also promotes professional development among her colleagues, trains staff on technology, and serves on multiple educational committees as well as organizing weekly assemblies and tech fairs.

“Nichole Anderson is a visionary educator who inspires students to reach high, be creative, and develop solutions to real-world problems,” said McDonald. “She ensures that students are equipped with knowledge and skills to form meaningful connections to the world through technology, leadership, and collaboration.”

By giving students in kindergarten through fifth grade access to and expertise in technologies such as 3-D printing, computer coding, robotics, word processing, and web applications, Anderson is building a platform for students to succeed from an early age, whatever the future may bring. A charismatic and caring teacher who knows the names of all 600 kids in her school, she finds ways to make technology personal, approachable, and concrete for her students.

Nichole Anderson with students Anderson’s position, the school computer lab and 3-D printers are funded by donations made to the Pasadena Educational Foundation, which supports Pasadena Unified schools.

The Milken Educator Awards 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.

Read more about Milken Educator Nichole Anderson

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 2,700 top teachers, principals, and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2018-19 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans from March 21-24, 2019. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional learning opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

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 approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships, and even funded the adoption of children.

For more information, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 31 years ago in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.