Wyoming Teacher Surprised with Milken Educator Award

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A Thermopolis gym teacher got a big surprise on Friday morning.

News 13's spoke with the school staff about the big event and how they had to keep it all under wraps, to maintain the surprise.

It was a special day at Thermopolis Middle School where one teacher was granted the Milken Education Award and award is comparable to that of the Oscars for educators.

The prestige associated with it made it a worthwhile secret.

Thermopolis Principal Breez Daniels shared,"The secret of the Milken award was very hard to keep. I’ve known for about 3-4 weeks and you know just made this day so exciting and a day to truly look forward to.”

Students and staff gathered in the auditorium for what they all thought was just an assembly.

Thermopolis Teacher Shannon Hill expressed her surprise, “I thought we were just being recognized for being role model PLCs which is a big deal for us.”

Little did Hill know, the assembly was all for her.

“So we surprised Shannon Hill with a 2,5000 dollar cash award and she didn’t even know she was being considered for it and she didn’t apply for it.”

“The second I heard my name I was just overwhelmingly shocked.”

Hill is one of 44 educators nationwide to receive the Milken Educator Award for exuding excellence in and out of the classroom.

“Teachers have one of the most difficult jobs in the country so it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate teachers and give them the due that they certainly deserve. Over the past 30 years we’ve award it over 2700 educators with $25,000 cash awards."

Wyoming’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow also attended to present the award.

“There are so many great teachers working hard every single day across our state to create opportunities for students and they really are the heart of the education system."

School staff members and students congratulated Hill and said the award was well deserved.

“Mrs. Hill is an incredible teacher and so deserving of the Milken award she just has the heart of an educator she believes in case she shows her joy for teaching every day.”

Shannon’s daughter Hannah Hill also commented, “I’m really, really proud because she’s a good teacher and she’s been working really, really hard just to be like I don’t know like a role model.

Hill commented about the accomplishment, “I know as teachers we constantly second-guess ourselves like are we doing the right thing are we teaching right things and just that now I have the confidence to say yeah I do now I can expand and take it further.”

We asked hill what she plans to do with her big check.

“I immediately was like yes new PE equipment; just expanding on that and now having the ability to do that would be a dream of mine.”

But her daughter Hannah, has something else in mind.

“I really, really wanted to go to Disneyland.”

“My daughter was I think just as surprised as I was and it was really fun having her here just to share that and my husband you know I don't think he really understood the depth of it until you know I said like this is a national award."

In March, Hill will join the other chosen educators in Washington DC to network and share leadership ideas with state and federal officials.

The last Milken Award received by a Wyoming educator was in 1999, the winner was also there to congratulate Hill.