We got a head's up this was going to happen this morning but were unable to attend the surprise presentation.

Owensboro elementary teacher Ryan Williams received the surprise of a lifetime when Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday and Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear came to Cravens Elementary School Tuesday morning to announce that he is Kentucky’s Milken Award winner for 2012.

The Commissioner and First Lady arrived for the school’s morning assembly and surprised the unsuspecting Mr. Williams, before a cheering audience of students, teachers and local and state leaders with the announcement that he is Kentucky’s choice for the prestigious Milken Award. 

Ryan Williams (center) is surrounded by Milken Foundation Vice President
Jane Foley, First Lady Jane Beshear, OPS Superintendent Larry Vick, State
Representative Tommy Thompson and three former Milken Award recipients
from the area.

“Ryan is one of those exceptional teachers who has an innovative, enthusiastic, and nurturing spirit,” said Owensboro Public School Superintendent Larry Vick.  “He inspires his students to achieve at high levels and to believe in themselves,” said Dr. Vick.  Mr. Williams began his teaching career in 1999 at Cravens Elementary School, a school of approximately 300 students.

Each year, approximately 40 exceptional educators nationwide are considered for this award without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education.  It is the largest teacher recognition program in the U.S., the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards were created to reward, retain and attract the highest quality K-12 educators to the profession. Each Milken Educator receives an unrestricted financial award of $25,000.  Since 1993, when the state joined the program, 52 Kentucky educators have received the award.

The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982 to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in education and medical research.