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Laura Cole Receives a giant check worth $25,000

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Scott High School Teacher Wins Prestigious National Award

Laura Cole, a math teacher at Scott High School in Taylor Mill, received the Milken Educator Award - colloquially referred to as the Oscars of Teaching - this morning in front of prominent education officials, the First Lady of Kentucky, field representatives from Senators McConnell and Paul, a field representative from Congressman Massie, former recipients of the award in Kentucky, and her students and colleagues during a surprise assembly held at the school.

The award comes with a $25,000 prize - which Cole can spend however she pleases - and an invitation to partake in a national educators forum held in Indianapolis by the Milken Family Foundation this March to assess and impact current teaching trends. Cole is the only teacher in Kentucky to receive this award during this cycle, is among 40 recipients nationwide, and the fifty-seventh teacher in Kentucky to receive it since 1993.

A statement from the Milken Family Foundation said:

Kentucky high school teacher Laura Cole instills confidence in her math students through her unwavering belief in their skills. Their strong academic results prove it: Cole has elevated student performance in numeracy and literacy at Scott High School, and her students' standardized test scores lead the Kenton County School District. 

Greg Gallagher, Senior Program Director for the Milken Family Foundation said that it was Cole's leadership throughout the school both in and out of the classroom that set her apart from others. 

"It's amazing just to come and honor educators across the country for the work they are doing in our schools," he said. "We think it's important to do this ceremony in front of the students because then they get to see a teacher getting celebrated, getting an award, and getting a prize and maybe it will convince some of them to pursue a career in education." 

Gallagher teased the students at the assembly by calling five volunteers from the audience to come up and hold placards that would show the amount of money won when they were flipped over. The first placard was a dollar sign and the number shown totalled $2,500 before he asked a sixth volunteer if she thought the foundation he represented could do better for teachers. Shortly after the sixth volunteer said "yes," Gallagher revealed that First Lady Britainy Beshear had another placard with an additional zero on it. 

"If you weren't awake yet, you certainly are now," the First Lady said after it was revealed that Cole was the winner. "On behalf of myself and my husband Andy, it is my honor to congratulate Laura on her Milken award - it is obvious that this is a well-deserved blessing."

"This is an amazing group of kids and I want to tell each and every one of you that you are amazing," Beshear said as she spoke to the students in the crowd. 

Although overwhelmed by the palpable support for her in the auditorium, Cole said that she was honored to receive the award, the recognition, and a standing ovation from her students. 

She said that she wasn't sure what she was going to do with the money yet, but said that she and her spouse were talking about making some improvements on their home, or starting a college fund for her two daughters. 

-By Connor Wall, Associate Editor

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Greg Gallagher Addresses the Students and Teachers in the Crowd