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For Immediate Release: Oct. 24, 2011
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Rapid City teacher receives prestigious Milken Award

Nicole Keegan, a 7th-grade science and social studies teacher at Dakota Middle School, received the surprise of a lifetime today when she was presented with a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.

State Education Secretary Dr. Melody Schopp and Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Family Foundation, presented Keegan with a $25,000 cash award during a school assembly this morning.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this celebration,” Schopp said. “Nicole has an amazing energy and passion for her students and for the teaching profession. Through her work, she serves as a great example and guiding light for young teachers everywhere.”

Keegan has been teaching at Dakota Middle School in Rapid City for 10 years, and for the past five years, has served as a teacher mentor for new staff members. She is also on the Dakota Leadership Team, a team of teachers that helps make decisions and plan staff development at the school.

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.

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