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For Immediate Release: Oct. 16, 2008
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Rapid City teacher receives prestigious Milken award

Cary Roller, a 1st-grade teacher at Knollwood Heights Elementary School in Rapid City, got a major surprise today. Gov. Mike Rounds and Education Secretary Rick Melmer presented Roller with a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award during a school assembly. As part of the award, Roller receives $25,000 in cash.

“Mrs. Roller is known for her outstanding teaching skills and commitment to her students,” said Gov. Mike Rounds. “She creates a classroom environment that fosters cooperation, respect and independent thinking, and her students have thrived because of it. I am honored to recognize her with a Milken National Educator Award.”

Roller also has been an inspiration to her colleagues, who praise her can-do attitude, her leadership skills, and her constant efforts to improve her own skills and knowledge base.

Roller is currently a member of Knollwood’s Building Leadership Team. She plays a key role on the Knollwood Mighty Knight Committee, which is working to improve the school’s student award program. She has run a demonstration classroom, where she served as a model of effective literacy instruction for colleagues on a local and regional basis. And she has mentored new teachers both formally and informally.

Roller has been teaching at Knollwood Heights for eight years. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from South Dakota State University, a master’s in sociology from the University of South Dakota, and a teaching degree from Black Hills State University.

The Milken National Educator Awards were created by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken to celebrate, elevate and activate the highest caliber professionals in our nation’s schools.

Candidates for the awards are selected on the basis of the following criteria:

--Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;

--Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;

--Strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and

--Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.