Buffalo — Kindergarten is a big transition, but for Jessica Kavitz’s students at Meadowlark Elementary School, she eases them into the school year with movement-as-learning, colorful and creative exercises to engage their young minds, and social-emotional learning tools to build confidence. Kavitz (KAY-vitz) is a local leader, following in the footsteps of her mother who was an educator in Gillette for nearly three decades. At a schoolwide assembly today, Kavitz was honored for her work in and out of the classroom, becoming the district’s first recipient of the Milken Educator Award, often hailed as the “Oscar of Teaching.”
Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher was joined by Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder to present Kavitz with the prestigious recognition, including an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize to be used however she likes.
Kavitz is among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-2023 school year, and the first recipient from Johnson County School District #1 in the history of the Award. On top of today’s celebration, Kavitz will have the opportunity to join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 exceptional K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in April 2023.
“Jessica Kavitz is the kind of teacher you hope your children have for their first year of school – compassionate, thoughtful and engaging. Jessica’s classroom is a nonstop learning hub that prepares students well for their academic journeys,” said Gallagher. “Outstanding educators have the potential to positively influence generations of students, and it is especially meaningful when parents inspire their children to pursue the adventure of teaching. We are thrilled to honor Jessica as a second-generation educator making an impact on the lives of so many young students in the Buffalo community.”
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, 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.
“Jessica is a shining star among Wyoming’s excellent teachers. She is creative, dedicated and genuinely believes in her students. Congratulations to Jessica – Wyoming is very proud of you!” said Chad Auer, Wyoming’s deputy superintendent of public instruction.
Since the initiative’s inception, 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.
Wyoming Superintendent-Elect of Public Instruction Megan Degenfelder also shared her congratulations for Kavitz today, saying, “Jessica Kavitz is a perfect example of the outstanding educators we have throughout Wyoming. Her attention to her students’ growth and unique learning styles is exceptional. Congratulations, Jessica.”