Teacher receives surprise $25,000 Milken Educator Award, hailed as ‘Oscars of teaching’

INDIANAPOLIS — Second-grade teacher Brittany Tinkler had an unexpected morning at Perry Township’s Rosa Parks Elementary today when she received a national Milken Educator Award, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000.

Brittany Tinkler

Tinkler was honored for her excellence and leadership, both in the classroom and at school at large. Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, along with Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner, presented Tinkler with the prestigious honor at a vibrant school assembly full of cheering students, proud colleagues, state and local dignitaries, and media.

Dr. Jane Foley

“Brittany Tinkler is a treasure to Perry Township, drawing from her experience both as a classroom teacher and teacher leader to bring learning to life for her students every day,” said Dr. Foley, who is herself a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. “It is no surprise that she calls Rosa Parks Elementary her second home. 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 by Lowell Milken, the Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues, and communities. The specific states and schools on this year’s winners’ list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced.

“Mrs. Brittany Tinkler’s love for education and innovative project-based learning has an impact that extends throughout Perry Township schools,” said Dr. Jenner. “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. An advocate for all students, Brittany is proof that great teachers change lives and strives to do the same for each of her own students.” 

Tinkler joins Angela Fowler, a fourth-grade math teacher at Grassy Creek Elementary School in Greenwood, as the two Indiana Milken Educators this 2022-23 season. They are among up to 40 elementary educators to be awarded across the nation.

In addition to today’s celebration, Tinkler will have the opportunity to join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 and the growing of exemplary K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this April.

Since the initiative’s inception in 1987, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.

More About Brittany Tinkler

An Advocate for Students and Colleagues: Tinkler has enhanced learning for hundreds of students at Rosa Parks Elementary, both in her second-grade classroom and the school at large. A former master teacher in the district, Tinkler brings her leadership and mentorship expertise to her current role. She is a strong advocate for project-based learning (PBL) and has helped lead its rollout for the school’s second and fourth graders. As a master teacher, Tinkler worked with all stakeholders to support student’s growth both academically and socially, providing one-to-one coaching, co-planning and co-teaching, and professional development. She helped other educators incorporate the kinds of effective, innovative instructional practices that she uses as a classroom teacher, immersing Perry Township Schools students in learning experiences rich with authenticity, curiosity, and ownership. Tinkler planned and facilitated cluster cycles, field-tested new instructional strategies, and led meetings with mentor teachers to grow the capacity of other teacher leaders in Perry Township, which partners with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET).

Creative Instruction Produces Positive Results: Tinkler has shared her extensive experience with PBL with educators around the country through professional development, conference presentations, articles, and podcasts. She co-authored a chapter in a book about math-related PBL in elementary classrooms. Tinkler has brought community partners from the local zoo, radio station, rescue mission, and fire station into her classroom, introducing students to a new world of career possibilities as they explore their interests. Her students outperformed the district and expected growth in both math and ELA.

A Family Tradition: With a contagious positive attitude that draws in students and colleagues alike, Tinkler strives to be a champion for all students. As a master teacher, she started an after-school running club and helped launch robotics and math teams. Tinkler hails from a family of educators – her grandfather was a principal in the Indianapolis area — and teaches in the same district from which both she and her husband graduated. Tinkler’s passion for teaching and learning stems from a very personal mission: to give back to the school community that helped educate her.

Education: Tinkler earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2012 from Indiana University and a master’s in curriculum and instructional leadership in 2018 from Indiana Wesleyan University.

More About the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”

Along with the financial prize, recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 and a growing of exemplary teachers, principals, and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards, and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this April, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education.
  • In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFF) mentoring program, in which new Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy, and practice.
  • Veteran Milken Educators demonstrate a wide range of leadership roles at state, national, and international levels.
  • “We find you. You Don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the Award, with the final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.
  • The $25,000 cash Award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.  

To receive regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the Award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.


About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by Lowell Milken, the Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to midcareer for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at MFF.org.