By Sherri Coner
Moments after being named a 2022-2023 recipient of the nationally recognized Milken Educator Award, Brittany Tinkler, second grade teacher at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Perry Township smiled at the large crowd of first through fifth graders and made her exciting moment a teachable one for the student body.
Along with reminding students about the importance of perseverance, Tinkler encouraged them to always ask questions about everything that draws their curiosity.
“Never stop asking why and if you do that, you will know your purpose,” she said.
Along with school board members, state and local dignitaries, colleagues and several past recipients of the prestigious award for excellence and leadership, Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education, congratulated a rather stunned Tinkler.
“Mrs. Brittany Tinkler’s love for education and innovative project-based learning has an impact that extends throughout Perry Township Schools,” Dr. Jenner said. “Whether by bringing in community partners to introduce her students to new career possibilities, helping her classes outperform expected growth in math and English/language arts, or launching a robotics club, Brittany continues to give back to the very same school community where she attended as a child.”
Also in attendance, Dr. Jane Foley, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President, traveled from Santa Monica, Calif. to speak to students and offer Tinkler a well-deserved hug.
“It is no surprise that she calls Rosa Parks Elementary her second home,” said Dr. Foley, who was a 1994 recipient of the Indiana Milken Educator Award. “For Brittany – a proud product of a family of educators – teaching is not only a vocation, but also a volition to help her students and colleagues reach their fullest potential. We are fortunate to have Brittany as a member of our national Milken Educator Award family.”
Created in 1987 by philanthropist Lowell Milken, the Milken Educator Awards publicly highlight K-12 educators across the United States who make a profound difference not only for students but also for their colleagues and communities.
Each year, specific states and schools chosen for the winners’ list remain a closely guarded secret until each award is announced. Judging from the genuine shock on Tinkler’s face when her name was announced, Rosa Parks Elementary School principal, Matt Bush, and office staff appeared to do a great job with keeping the news top secret.
Since the first award was presented in 1987, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual awards, has been devoted to the Milken Awards initiative, which also includes professional development opportunities throughout each recipient’s career.
Tinkler joins more than 2,900 teachers in the national Milken Educator Network of educators across the country. Along with receiving an unrestricted cash award of $25,000, she received an all-expenses-paid trip in April to attend the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles.
In December, Angela Fowler, fourth grade math teacher at Grassy Creek Elementary School in Greenwood, was also announced as a Milken Educator Award winner.
As Indiana’s Milken Educators this 2022-23 season, Fowler and Tinkler are among nearly 40 elementary educators across the country to receive this year’s award.
“An advocate for all students, Brittany is proof that great teachers change lives and strive to do the same for each student.” Dr. Jenner said.