Earlier this month, third-grade teacher Taylor Goodson ’12, ’14 MEd was sitting in a surprise school assembly at Coventry Elementary School, in Yorktown, Virginia. The impromptu event had been called — so she was told — in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.
What Goodson hadn’t been told, however, was that before the end of the assembly she’d receive one of education’s highest honors, the Milken Educator Award. The prestigious awards — sometimes called the “Oscars of Teaching” — come with a $25,000 cash prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles for the Milken Educator Awards Forum in June.
When her name was announced by Stephanie Bishop, vice president of the Milken Educator Awards for the Milken Family Foundation, Goodson said she was “shocked and couldn’t believe [it]. I felt honored by the recognition and my students were thrilled with excitement for me.”
Goodson, who has taught at Coventry for eight years, added, “I am so grateful for the recognition and I hope to positively impact education through the amazing opportunities the Milken Foundation extends to its award recipients.”
Milken Educator Award winners aren’t nominated. Rather, early to mid-career teachers are identified through what’s described as a “confidential selection process” and then candidates are “reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state.” Final selections are made by the Milken Family Foundation, which first started presenting the awards in 1987.
In addition to the unrestricted cash award, Milken Educators benefit from networking and mentorship opportunities.
They also become part of the Milken Educator Network, described by the foundation as “a group of more than 2,800 distinguished educators and leaders from across the country, whose expertise and mentorship serve as a valuable resource to fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others shaping the future of education.”
Goodson plans to use the cash award to pursue an educational specialist degree in educational leadership.
“There is no one more deserving,” Coventry’s principal, Brian Fries, told the Daily Press newspaper. “She will do absolutely anything a student needs, and she puts in the effort to form really positive individual relationships with each one. We all know her as a person who goes above and beyond.”
Goodson was one of four Lynchburg graduates to be honored as standout educators this spring.
In its March/April issue, Lynchburg Living Magazine listed Lucinda Pickering ’87 among the area’s “Top Teachers.”
In the article, Pickering, a kindergarten teacher at Bedford Hills Elementary in Lynchburg, was described by a former student as “the type of teacher who is fully invested in all of her students, both while they are in her class and long after.”
In April, Ellen Tyler ’16, ’19 MEd, ’22 MEd was named “Teacher of the Year” at Lynchburg’s E.C. Glass High School.
Tyler, a special education teacher, finished her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies – teacher education in 2016. In 2019, she received a Master of Education in special education. In August, she will complete a second MEd in education leadership, PK-12, administration and supervision.
In May, Cathy Drumheller ’10 MEd was named Lynchburg City Schools’ “Teacher of the Year.” Drumheller, a biology teacher at Heritage High School, earned an MEd in educational leadership at Lynchburg in 2010.
In a news release, the school district praised Drumheller as “an outstanding example for both her students and her colleagues.
“Her dedication to students and her passion for teaching and learning is evidenced by her ability to engage students in science using aquaponics in the classroom, sponsoring the Lynchburg Students Rise and Project Inclusion, as well as many other contributions to the school community and division.”