Frederick teacher surprised with prestigious award-- and $25,000!

She thought she was there for a school assembly, but a Maryland teacher was instead surprised on Tuesday with a big award-- and $25,000!

Maggie Hawk, a first grade teacher at Yellow Springs Elementary School in Frederick, was stunned to learn that students, teachers, staff and a round of dignitaries-- even her husband, who was hiding-- were all gathered just for her. Hawk received the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. It's hailed as the "Oscars of Teaching."

Milken Family Foundation co-Founder Mike Milken, together with Maryland State Chief Academic Officer Jack Smith, delivered the news to the flabbergasted young teacher.

Milken said Hawk embodies the qualities of a Milken Educator.

"When Maggie Hawk says all students can and will learn, she is speaking from personal experience," said Milken. "As a child who struggled with learning issues, she learned from her own teachers how to overcome challenges and blossom into the outstanding educator she is today. She helps students with severe disabilities overcome their challenges to make significant progress in the classroom. All her students know how much she cares."

Hawk knows a lot about Yellow Springs Elementary-- especially since she went there herself years ago! Learning wasn't easy for her as a child because she struggled with dyslexia. As a teacher, she works to reach her students in unique ways using technology and a collaborative teaching approach.

And if you ask around at the school, you'll hear lots of "Mrs. Hawk stories," which relates to her care and attention in support of student learning. There was the student whose mother was deployed to Iraq. Hawk created a video of the child in the classroom and mailed it overseas. There were the students with severe disabilities who overcame their challenges to make significant academic progress. There's the student she's mentored for years and who lives with an elderly great-grandmother.

She takes turns joining each student in the class for lunch to get to know the "whole person." Her warmth and fortitude provide valuable life lessons that profoundly reinforce the academic curriculum for the entire class, a collaborative learning community that supports and celebrates together through challenges and successes.

Maryland joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1993. Since then, there have been 59 recipients in the state.

The Milken Educator Awards program, created by the Milken Family Foundation, was launched 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.

So, what will Hawk do with the money? Start her young son his own college fund, of course!
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