For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicago principal earns national recognition for making students active participants in their own education

Pershing West Elementary School principal receives Milken National Educator Award

CHICAGO-The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Milken Family Foundation announced today that Chicago Public Schools principal Cheryl Watkins has been selected as a Milken National Educator.  Watkins, the principal at Pershing West Elementary School, will receive $25,000 as part of the award.

“Illinois has some of the best teachers in the world and we’re proud of not only the work they do in their classroom, but also their commitment to every aspect of their students’ lives,” said Linda Tomlinson, Assistant Superintendent at the Illinois State Board of Education.  “I want to thank the Milken Family Foundation for their support and recognition of exemplary teachers.”

Watkins strongly believes that all students can succeed and her passion and determination have held fast as she has advanced in her career. Pershing West is one of Chicago’s 2010 Renaissance Schools. 

“Because of Cheryl, our students are active participants in their own education,” said Durrell Anderson, Assistant Principal at Pershing West. “Cheryl believes in the students and the staff and we are all working together toward the common goal of student success.”

Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation was joined by football great Rosie Greer and local dignitaries for an assembly at Pershing West where the surprise announcement was made.  The prestigious award is given annually to teachers demonstrating exemplary teaching skills and a personal commitment to education.  Each winner receives $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation which they can use however they wish.

Watkins, who has been a teacher and principal for 17 years, strongly believes in celebrating the differences among today’s students.  Her background includes teaching students with and without disabilities, students in wealthy districts and students in poor districts. 

This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the Milken Educator Awards.  Up to 80 recipients across the county will receive the award during the next six weeks.  Over $60 million has been awarded to more then 2300 recipients, including the 2008 awardees.  New winners will join the Milken Educator Network, a rich resource of educators and other influential leaders accessible to fellow teachers, legislators, school boards, and others who are shaping the future of education.  Illinois joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1988 and to date 106 educators across the state have been named National Educators.