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NEWS RELEASES 2001-02 :: OCTOBER 15, 2001


If you're a North Carolina public school teacher, your reward for a job well done usually comes in the form of a well-deserved pat on the back from your principal, a note of thanks from a parent or a hug from a student. Although each is greatly appreciated, none comes close to an unrestricted check in the amount of $25,000. Dr. Patricia Legrand, a Guilford County schools' teacher at Middle College High School, found out just how good that feels when she was named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator today. Legrand formerly taught science at Dudley High School at the time of her nomination for this honor. Middle College High, which is housed on the campus of Guilford Technical Community College, is a non-traditional high school for students who don't acclimate well to a traditional high school setting.

In a series of surprise notifications by State Superintendent Mike Ward and State Board of Education Chairman Phil Kirk, Legrand learned that she was among the 120 newest recipients of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. This award carries with it an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 and membership in a network of more than 1,700 past recipients from around the nation. Robert Freeman, the initial licensure teacher coordinator for Robeson County Schools, received the award earlier today. Cindy Moss, a biology teacher at Independence High School, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, was tapped for the award last Monday.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said that he was delighted to have the opportunity, through the Milken Family Foundation, to recognize such outstanding educators. "North Carolina is blessed to have so many outstanding teachers in the classroom. Patricia Legrand is a prime example of how our schools are ensuring that students graduate with the skills they need to succeed. This is our eighth year of recognizing excellence in education through the Milken Family Foundation, and I'm proud to acknowledge the vision and dedication Patricia brings to the profession," he said.

Recipients of the award are selected by an independent blue-ribbon committee appointed by each state's department of education. Predetermined criteria for the award include exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school and profession; outstanding accomplishment and strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

Legrand was selected for the award because of her ability to increase student confidence and competence while holding all students to high standards. While at Dudley High School, she used a variety of teaching methods including group activities, class discussions, labs, problem sets, collaborative pairings and quizzes to promote critical thinking. For students who still needed help, Legrand often provided tutoring in the early morning, during lunch and after school. When her students were out of school due to injury or illness, she went to their homes to tutor them, without additional pay.

A National Board Certified teacher, Legrand coached other teachers pursuing certification. She has worked closely with initially licensed science teachers and recently received training in Performance-Based Licensure Product Assessment, which has enabled her to work with second year, initially licensed teachers on preparation of their portfolios. Her influence has been widely felt by her students, fellow educators and beginning teachers.

Legrand will join 119 other educators in 44 states as the latest recipients of this prestigious award, which was established to provide public and financial recognition to teachers, principals, and other education professionals who are advancing excellence in education. In addition to the financial award and educational networking opportunities, recipients are provided with a variety of professional resources to help them cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools, and districts. They also will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles in June 2002 for the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference.

"Outstanding educators are the essential ingredient in student achievement, encouraging children to perform to their fullest abilities and to develop a love of learning," said Foundation President Lowell Milken. "Each and every day, these educators provide students with the confidence and tools to succeed."

Dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were created in 1985 to reward, retain and attract the highest caliber professionals to our nation's schools. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators. To date, 33 North Carolina educators have received this award, sharing a total of $825,000. Nationally, $44.4 million has been awarded since the program's inception.

To receive additional information on the Milken Educator Awards, the National Education Conference, or other Milken Family Foundation programs, please call 310.998.2800 or visit the Milken Family Foundation Web site, For information about the awards presented in North Carolina, contact Cecil Banks, Center for Recruitment and Retention, DPI, 919.807.3375.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.