Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012

A.J. Whittenberg Elementary Fourth Grade Teacher Earns National Honor, $25,000 Prize

Shasta Looper with male presenterShasta Looper, a fourth grade teacher at A. J. Whittenberg Elementary School, got the surprise of her professional life today with the news that she had won the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award and its accompanying financial prize of $25,000.

Shasta Looper presented a checkMrs. Looper was recognized at a school-wide assembly headlined by State Superintendent of Education Dr. Mick Zais and National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Chief Learning Officer Jason Culbertson.

Dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teaching Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were created in 1985 to reward, retain, and attract top professionals to the nation’s schools.

Shasta Looper is Greenville County Schools’ ninth teacher to receive the prestigious award. Previous recipients are Gresham Brown (2010); Regina Urueta (2006); Christina Hunter (2004): Dr. Ann Shaw (2000); Dr. J. Todd White (2000); Shay Willimon (1998); Garrison Hall (1996); and Lisa Frampton (1994).

“It is my pleasure to be here today to see Mrs. Looper recognized for her outstanding contributions to education,” said District Superintendent W. Burke Royster.  “By earning this well-deserved recognition, Shasta Looper is clearly a shining example of what makes a great educator.”

The Milken National Educator Awards are the nation’s largest teacher recognition program.  Since the program’s inception, more than 2,500 educators have been recognized with more than $63 million in cash awards.

About Shasta Looper

group of students holding signs representing the amount of the awardMrs. Looper, a 13-year teaching veteran and Greenville County Teacher of the Year finalist, has the ability to communicate effectively with students, parents, community members, and legislators. Her love for children drives her desire to help other teachers make learning fun and exciting through the use of technology and student centered learning.  She passionately believes that incorporating technology into instruction will greatly increase student success and she shares that belief through training opportunities district-wide and on state and national levels at conferences. 

“This award isn’t just for me, it’s for the children I’ve taught over the past 13 years, so thank you for giving me encouragement and inspiration each day in the classroom,” said Mrs. Looper after receiving the award.

Next spring, award she will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to attend the Milken Educator Forum, which brings together award-winning educators from across the nation to address innovative strategies to advance teaching effectiveness. The forum will culminate in a ceremony at which the recipients will be honored and presented their $25,000 awards.

Recipients also join the Milken Educator Network, a coalition of top educators who have access to a variety of expert resources to help cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools, and districts.

Selection of Milken recipients alternates annually between elementary and secondary educators. Educators are recommended for this prestigious honor without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education.  Candidates for the Milken Educator 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.
  • Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
  • Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
  • Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

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