A typical school assembly turned into a huge surprise for a magnolia middle school teacher. Rhonda Burrage, who teaches 8th grade math, received the Milken educator award in the form of a $25,000 check.
“I am very shocked and just overwhelmed. I’m still in shock now. I just really can’t believe it. I had no idea why everyone was here.”
The Milken award is kind of like the Oscars, but for teachers. Each year the award goes to the top educators in the country who have a proven track record of excellence in the classroom.
“We’re looking for educators who have very innovative practices with results. Rhonda Burrage has high achievement of her students in algebra every year. We’re looking for educators who are leaders in the profession. So she is already a leader of other teachers, helping them improve their practices.”
Nominations and applications are not accepted for this award. Instead, the Milken family foundation searches the entire nation to find those few teachers who are making strides early in their careers.
“It’s hard work being a teacher, and I think anytime we can give public recognition to the people that make the magic happen in the classroom, we need to be doing that.”
A teacher for 7 years, Burrage has inspired both students and
“Ms. Burrage has very calm demeanor. She doesn’t get frustrated easily. She takes her job very seriously. She has great character. She cares about her students a lot. She develops a relationship with her students. She has a relationship with her peers here. She’s very active. She’s just an overall great person.”
Burrage attributes her success to respecting her students and setting high expectations. She already has plans on how she will spend the money.
“Now we’ll be able to buy more supplies definitely. Because we do need more calculators. A $25,000 check, i can’t believe it. I’ll be able to buy so much with that to help my students definitely. I’m just so very grateful and thankful."