News Releases

Milken Family Foundation Surprises Jackson Public Schools Teacher with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

by Betty Ezelle | Feb 19, 2014

NEWS RELEASE                                

CONTACT:  Barbara Bowers,; (310) 488-3994
                  Patrice Guilfoyle,; (601) 359-3515

Milken Family Foundation Surprises
Jackson Public Schools Teacher with $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Governor Phil Bryant and State Superintendent of Education Carey M. Wright
present “Oscar of Teaching” to Tracee Thompson from Jim Hill High School


  • Photos will be updated during the day.


Tracee Thompson, an English and Language Arts teacher at Jim Hill High School in Jackson, Mississippi, was surprised with an unrestricted $25,000 Milken Educator Award,, during a school-wide assembly. This prestigious honor, the only one presented in Mississippi, will be bestowed in 2013-14 upon up to 40 of America’s most outstanding secondary school educators. Introducing the Awards presentation was Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 1994 Milken Educator recipient from Indiana.

 “Our public education system is at the heart of America’s promise and essential to safeguarding the American dream for future generations,” said Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation.  “With research confirming that effective teachers represent the single most important school-related factor in raising student achievement, it is important to honor them, learn from them, and inspire more capable people to enter the profession.  As the program’s motto extols, the future belongs to the educated.”


“Reading is the key to success.”  It’s a mantra that English teacher Tracee Thompson reiterates daily to her 10th and 11th grade students.  Thompson develops creative, engaging lessons that inspire students. Helping them to develop effective reading skills, she takes the time to tailor instruction to individual needs. She introduces students to productive new learning tools by incorporating strategies such as note taking, mnemonic devices and peer mediation, Students consider her demanding, but they also know she truly cares that they’re prepared to go on to college.

Through the Middle Years Program Personal Project, Thompson challenges students to amp up their imaginations and create a project they think can change the world. She meets in the spring with incoming 10th graders and their parents to explain the program; then checks in with students or parents throughout the summer. Come fall, students present their often ingenious projects and hit their sophomore year prepared to learn. 

This desire to help kids stay excited about learning has paid off. For the last six years, all but three students at Jim Hill High School have been successful on the English II state exam. As a corollary to this success, the student retention rate has diminished. Thompson herself has earned accolades as a Star Teacher—a designation made by a Star Student, one who has achieved a high score on both college entrance exams and GPA.

Thompson’s impact reaches far beyond the classroom. She chairs the Jim Hill English Department and is a member of the National Council for Teachers (English), the School Leadership and School Improvement committees, and is sponsor of the sophomore class and Drama Club.  She holds one master’s degree in secondary education and is currently pursuing a master’s in English, which serves as a role model for students and colleagues of the importance of lifelong learning.

DETAILS: The Milken Educator Awards, conceived by Lowell Milken to attract, retain and motivate outstanding talent to the teaching profession, is the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine. Since 1987, the Milken Family Foundation, co-founded by Michael and Lowell Milken, has devoted more than $136 million in funding to the Milken Educator Awards, including over $64 million in individual Awards to nearly 2,600 recipients plus powerful professional development opportunities and networking with leading education stakeholders.


Mississippi joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1991.
$1,675,000 cash awards previously presented to 67 Mississippi Milken Educator Award recipients

MORE:   Milken Educator Awards Website:
              Mississippi Department of Education Website:
              Jackson Public School District Website:
              Milken Family Foundation Website:
              Follow the Awards at,
     and at

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