For Immediate Release
April 12, 2013

Second grade Joliet teacher named 2012 National Milken Educator

Surprise announcement recognizes teacher for her success as role model for students and peers

JOLIET – The Illinois State Board of Education and the Milken Family Foundation announced today that Stephanie Hawkins, a second-grade teacher at Lynne Thigpen Elementary School in Joliet, has been chosen as the Illinois recipient of the Milken National Educator Award. Hawkins will receive $25,000 as part of the award.

“We are thrilled to join the Milken Foundation in recognizing another outstanding Illinois teacher,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Stephanie is known among her peers and school community for employing a wide variety of strategies to reach all students. Today, she’s getting some well-deserved credit for her quiet can-do attitude.”

An educator for seven years, Hawkins has just been at Lynne Thigpen in Joliet Public Schools District 86 for two years but has already proven to be an invaluable member of the faculty and committees focused on curriculum and school improvement, according to Principal Kimberly Gordon. Through research and innovation, Hawkins excels at differentiating instruction so that every child gets the support he or she needs in order to learn and succeed. Her efforts helped two students who were nearly retained at their grade level become above average readers, Gordon said.

“She doesn’t give up, she’s strategic and thoughtful about what will work for each individual student,’’ Gordon said. “She’s always open to new ideas. If I would pass on an article about a new reading strategy, she would read it, devour it, apply it and work with our team to get on board with it.”

Gordon also cited Hawkins’ calm and respectful demeanor, saying students emulate her – even when they’re out of her sight. At the same time, Gordon said that Hawkins exhibits strong leadership skills.

“She’s not afraid to challenge the status quo,” Gordon said. “Even as a new teacher in the building, she’s willing to stand up for what she believes in.”

The Milken National Educator Award is given annually to teachers demonstrating exemplary skills and a personal commitment to education. Each winner receives $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation.

To date, more than 2,500 educators across the country have been awarded a total of more than $63 million in individual, unrestricted awards. Started in 1987, Illinois joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1988 and there have now been 111 Illinois Milken National Educators. Last year’s winner was Brad Abel, a social studies teacher from John Hersey High School of Township High School District 214. For more information, visit:


Follow us: follow us on facebookfollow us on Twitter Visit the official ISBE website at