Four Urban School Teachers Receive $25,000 Milken Educator Awards

  • Growing up, Esther Kwon, an assistant principal at Daniel K. Inouye Elementary in Honolulu located on an army barrack, attended 10 different schools in three countries — South Korea, Canada, and the United States. Sharing the same experience as the majority of her students, she looks for innovative ways to enhance their educational experience inside and outside of the classroom.Esther Kwon

    Last year, she piloted the Pineapple Academy, a distance learning option for 12 area elementary schools. At the academy, fifth graders started each day with “Pineapple Talk Time,” setting intentions for the day with one of the four class norms: be present, be respectful, be curious, and be responsible. Students also served as co-teachers helping to summarize learning and share key ideas in an online chat panel.

    In recognition of her efforts, Kwon was one of 35 educators across the nation to receive a 2022-2023 Milken Educator Award, regarded as the “Oscar Award of Teaching.”

    Sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation, the award is presented with a $25,000 cash prize to educators in their early to mid-career.

    Kwon was not the only big-city school educator to be honored. Also receiving a Milken Educator Award was Lisa Moody, a teacher in Omaha Public Schools, and Liz Barnum and Jason Murray, teachers in Nevada’s Washoe County School District in Reno.

    To be eligible for the award, recipients must demonstrate exceptional education talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results, have educational accomplishments beyond the classroom, and have an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues, and the community.  

    Since 1987, nearly 3,000 educators have received over $70 million in cash awards. This year the award was presented to elementary educators.

    Photo credits: Milken Family Foundation