A central Indiana math teacher was surprised with a national award Tuesday that honors exceptional teachers.
Angela Fowler of Grassy Creek Elementary School in Greenwood received the award during a school assembly she believed was to promote reading. Instead Fowler was announced as Indiana’s recipient of the Milken Educator Award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.
Fowler, in a brief impromptu speech, said she loves teaching math and the school and Clark-Pleasant Community School Corp. feels like home. She asked students to raise their hands if they’d been in her class.
“You guys are the reason I do this every single day. Even on those days you wake up and are kind of tough,” she said. “But you are the reason why I come to school, whenever I struggle and have some hard days I see your faces and I remember why I do what I do.”
Fowler is one of up to 40 elementary educators nationwide to be recognized by the Milken Family Foundation in the 2022-23 academic year.
Fowler was chosen for her ability to help students learn math concepts and classroom inclusion. Last year, the number of Fowler’s students who had mastery of fourth grade math increased from 8 percent at the beginning of the year to 54 percent by the end.
Often described as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the award recognizes early to mid-career educators across the country. There is no formal recommendation or application, rather recipients are selected in a confidential process. Winners receive personalized coaching for instruction and leadership. The Milken Family Foundation began presenting the award in 1987.
“Exceptional educators engage their students through creativity and leadership, and Angela Fowler embodies these qualities in her classroom each day,” said Jane Foley, Milken Educator Awards senior vice president and a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. “Her care and compassion create an environment where every student feels welcomed, valued and motivated to learn.”
The Milken Family Foundation has invested more than $140 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards to motivate and provide professional development to outstanding teachers.