NEWS RELEASES 2009-10 :: NOVEMBER 19, 2009


Cynthia Rudolph, a biology teacher at Hopewell High School in Huntersville (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools), today was named North Carolina's 2009 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award recipient. Rudolph is among more than 50 secondary educators in the nation to receive the unrestricted financial award of $25,000 this year and has become the newest member of a network of over 2,400 past recipients. Milken Family Foundation Senior Vice President Jane Foley made the surprise announcement during a school-wide assembly. Rudolph is the only North Carolina educator to receive the award this year.

State Superintendent June Atkinson, who assisted in the presentation, said she knows the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award recipients represent the best and the brightest in the teaching profession. "These outstanding educators spark interests, inspire creativity and boost achievement among all their students and we are so fortunate to have another Milken award winner in our state," Atkinson said. “Talented teachers such as Cynthia Rudolph are a key ingredient in our efforts to keep students excited and engaged in learning so they stay in school and graduate prepared for college, job training and a career."

Rudolph co-teaches two biology inclusion classes as well as honors classes and is noted for her unconventional and successful teaching techniques. Colleagues say that she challenges each student with the same mantra, to get out of their “comfort zone" to increase their academic achievement. She integrates art, dance and song into her classes to accomplish this goal and test results for her inclusion classes show all of her students exceed state standards.

Rudolph also helps to show her colleagues and educators across the country that science instruction can be creative. In 2008, she was selected as a professional development master teacher by her district, and her classroom serves as a learning lab for new teachers. Rudolph helped to develop the district's science curriculum and serves on the state department committee for testing and test development. She also was one of 20 teachers in North Carolina to be selected for the State Biology Standards Development conference.

An independent, blue ribbon committee appointed by each state's department of education selects the potential award recipients for submission to the Milken Foundation. Selection criteria include exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school; exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession; strong, long-term potential for professional and policy leadership; and an engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community.

"Highly effective educators are the human capital that will equip America's youth in this increasingly competitive global economy," Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken said. "By shining a national spotlight on these exceptional people, the Milken Educator Awards send a powerful message of the critical role that talented teachers play in preparing young people for a bright future."

Dubbed the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken National Educator Awards were established to provide exceptional K-12 educators with public recognition and to inspire talented young people to consider teaching as a career. In addition to the financial award and educational networking opportunities, the Milken Family Foundation provides recipients with a variety of professional resources to help them cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools and districts. The award alternates each year between elementary and secondary educators.

Since North Carolina joined the Milken Awards program in 1994, 44 North Carolina educators have received this award, sharing a total of almost $1.1 million. Nationally, over 2,400 educators have received more than $60 million since the program's inception in 1987. To receive additional information on the Milken Educator Awards, the National Education Conference, or other Milken Family Foundation programs, please call 310.570.4775 or visit the Milken Family Foundation Web site, For information about the award presented in North Carolina, please contact the NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 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.