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For Immediate Release: Oct. 26, 2009
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Sioux Falls teacher receives prestigious Milken award

Kira Christensen, a math teacher at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, received the surprise of a lifetime today when she was presented with a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.

Gov. Mike Rounds and Education Secretary Tom Oster* presented her with the award during a school assembly. As part of the award, Christensen receives $25,000 in cash.

“Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the country: the awesome responsibility of educating our youth,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster. “The Milken Awards give us the opportunity to recognize one of our state’s outstanding educators, and the chance to say thank you to all teachers for the important work they do.”

A graduate of Augustana College, Christensen has been with the Sioux Falls School District since 2004. She is recognized as a leader in her school and district. She uses differentiated instruction and incorporates technology in the classroom to help her students succeed.

The Milken Educator Awards were conceived by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. In addition to her cash prize, Christensen will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the Milken Educator Forum, a national gathering of award-winning educators who will address strategies for advancing teacher effectiveness.

Candidates for the Milken Educator Awards are selected on 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

--Individuals whose education contributions are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight

--Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership

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


To learn more about the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, visit