By Mark Rountree
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater Public Schools Gifted Resource Coordinator Tammera Mittelstet was awarded a $25,000 Milken Educator Award on Monday during an assembly at Highland Park Elementary School.
Mittelstet, who also teaches classes at Will Rogers Elementary School, was the only teacher selected in Oklahoma and one of approximately 100 teachers nationwide to win the cash award this year.
“Did they really say my name?” said Mittelstet, who was standing along a wall in the gymnasium when the surprise announcement was made. “I didn’t know anything about this. It’s a complete shock.”
Mittelstet can spend the money in any way she chooses. She said that the money will go into a college fund for her young daughter and help pay for expenses that accompany her husband’s advanced college degree.
“There will always be something spent on my students,” said Mittelstet. “I’m not sure what that will be yet. That will take some thought, but it will be something that my students will enjoy. ... I was excited for my students that they had a chance to see all of these higher dignitaries.”
State Superintendent Janet Barresi, Stillwater Superintendent Ann Caine and numerous other school and legislative dignitaries joined Highland Park’s entire student body, faculty and staff for the presentation in the school’s gymnasium.
“I’m thrilled for Ms. Mittelstet to win this prestigious award,” said Barresi. “To be recognized as an outstanding educator from among her peers by one of the top supporters of education in the country is an honor. To get to spend this money in any way she would like is a double treat.”
The Milken Educator Award, which has been given annually for 26 years, has honored approximately 2,600 people since its inception. It is given to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists.
“She is in a very exclusive group right now,” said Barresi.
Caine also announced at the assembly that Highland Park had received a $220,000 Safe Routes grant that will be applied at the new Highland Park school. The new school is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.