Sarah Berndt (B.S. Elementary Education, ‘04) received a 2013 Milken Educator Award, often referred to as the “Oscar of Teaching,” recognizing her work teaching ninth-grade Spanish and an introductory international baccalaureate class at Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School in Milwaukee. The only recipient in Wisconsin this year and one of only 40 nationwide, Berndt received an unrestricted $25,000 award as part of the honor.
“I can’t imagine spending my days doing anything but being with these students,” Berndt said immediately following the announcement.
The Milken Educator Awards program rewards and inspires excellence in the world of education by honoring top educators around the country. According to its website, the award is “not an accolade for ‘lifetime achievement’ or the proverbial gold watch at the exit door; the Milken Educator Awards targets early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.”
“Sarah’s optimism and high energy level in everything she does make her a highly respected and valuable colleague and teacher,” said Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers in a news release. “She is among the top education leaders in our state and nation and a deserving recipient of the Milken Educator Award.”
Evers, along with Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Award, presented the award to a surprised Berndt at an assembly in October.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be the subject of the breaking news story they were covering,” Berndt told reporters as they surrounded her after the presentation.
“The College of Education and Leadership is immensely proud of Sarah,” said Dr. Freda Russell, dean of the college. “Stritch’s commitment to exemplary teacher training dates back to the very founding of this University in 1937, and Sarah’s recognition affirms the exceptional work that is being done by our graduates in schools across Wisconsin and beyond.”
Other college alumni have received additional high honors. Last year, Joanne Sternke, ’88, ’11, superintendent of the Pewaukee School District, was named 2013 Wisconsin Superintendent of the Year.
See two Milken Family Foundation videos -- one of the all-school assembly surprise announcement and one of her reaction following the award ceremony -- and read biographical information about her.