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For Immediate Release: Oct. 26, 2006
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Batesland teacher receives prestigious Milken award

Connie Rous, a 5th grade teacher at Batesland Elementary, got a $25,000 surprise today. Gov. Mike Rounds and Education Secretary Rick Melmer presented Rous with a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which includes a $25,000 cash prize, at a surprise announcement at the school earlier today. Batesland Elementary is part of the Shannon County School District.

“Exceptional teachers, like Connie Rous, have that special ability to touch their students’ lives,” said Gov. Mike Rounds. “Good teachers don’t just educate. They listen. They motivate. They inspire, and they lead.”

A graduate of Oglala Lakota College, Rous has been in education for 13 years. Rous’s colleagues describe her as extremely student focused. Her classroom is a safe haven for students, where each receives individual attention based on his or her specific needs. Rous reviews student progress and adjusts her instruction accordingly. Student achievement has improved as a result.

But Rous’s attention to students goes beyond the classroom. She often visits her students’ homes to talk with their families about how they can support their child’s learning. As Shannon County Superintendent Margo Heinert explained, “Connie has a fire for her kids and a passion to educate.”

In addition to her work with students, Rous is a leader within her school, district and community. She has served on school improvement teams, curriculum committees and state education committees. Other teachers look to her as a role model and mentor.

Called the “Oscars of Teaching,” 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.