By Steve Klamkin WPRO News
It was a well-kept secret.
Lauren Hopkins had no idea that the all-school assembly at Coventry High School was in her honor, or that she was to be named as just one of 45 recipients of the national Milken Educator Award, sometimes called the “Oscars of teaching.”
Hopkins, the entire school faculty and the 1,600 member student body gathered in the gymnasium to hear named as the winner, which carries an unrestricted, $25,000 prize.
“It’s an unbelievable surprise and honor,” Hopkins told reporters after the announcement. “I’m just so humbled by this.”
A 16-year veteran of Coventry High School, Hopkins teaches English and Language Arts, and was hugged by her sometimes emotional students.
“These kids who are surrounding me right now waiting for a hug, they are my motivation, they are my passion, they look to me for guidance and I look to them for inspiration, so we’re a good team,” she said.
The Milken Award has a simple message for its recipients.
“Thank you,” said Dr. Jane Foley, Senior Vice-President of the Miliken Educator Awards.
“You’re doing important work. We recognize it, we appreciate it, and we want you to stay in education for decades to continue this amazing work with your students,” Foley said.
Recipients cannot apply for the award, Foley said. They are recommended by state education officials, in this case the Rhode Island Education Commissioner’s office.
Hopkins and other awardees will attend a forum in Washington, D.C. next March, to include discussions on how to maximize their leadership roles in education.