Katherine Bobby

Eagle View Elementary School teacher Katherine Bobby talks to students Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, after winning a 2018 Milken Educator Award. Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat

SOMERSET – Katherine Bobby’s dedication to her students is paying off in more ways than one.

On Wednesday, at an all-school assembly at Eagle View Elementary School, the third-grade teacher was recognized as a 2018 Milken Educator Award winner and was presented with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

The prestigious award, created by the Milken Family Foundation, honors teaching excellence and was given to 40 educators across the nation.

Bobby was the only teacher in Pennsylvania to be chosen for the award.

On hand to celebrate the honor were  school administration, local dignitaries, state Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera and Milken Family Foundation’s Vice President Jane Foley.

“Being selected to receive the Milken Educator Award is an impressive honor and demonstrates Ms. Bobby’s commitment to her students, her colleagues and to the teaching profession,” Rivera said. 

“Knowing that the district’s relationship with parents is an essential ingredient for student success, she helps organize events and sits on the planning team, which works to enact Somerset’s vision of delivering meaningful learning within a caring educational community.”  

Bobby strives to create a nurturing school culture and a strong home-school connection.

In addition to helping organize school events and food drives, she has taken the lead in aligning the school’s curriculum with Pennsylvania’s Core Standards and mentors new and student teachers.

Bobby’s “Do One Thing” wall highlights things students have done to improve others’ quality of life in school, home and community.

She said coming into the assembly she thought the school was being honored for being named a Title I Distinguished School and for its Soar to Success Program.

“I thought they were recognizing the hard work that we’ve put in,” Bobby said.

She said when her name was announced as the winner she started crying and it took a few seconds to sink in.

“Education is feast and famine, and some days feel like famine and it’s hard to see the feast, so to be recognized in such a public way is amazing,” Bobby said. “This is only my 13th year teaching, and it gives you a renewed vigor for the years to come.”

After being presented with the check, Bobby asked her colleagues to join her in celebrating the award.

“There’s no way I would take recognition without recognizing everyone here who lifts me up on my bad days,” she said. “We’re a team and none of my ideas for this building could ever get off the ground without them, every idea I have, they are right there.”

Foley said an outstanding teacher such as Bobby routinely thinks outside of the box.

“She opens up the classroom to a holistic approach that integrates family and community while also embracing individualized learning and academic achievement,” she said. “It’s the kind of multifaceted excellence we love to see in our Milken Educators who, like Bobby, strive to make the everyday extraordinary.”

Along with the cash prize, Bobby will have the opportunity to attend the Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans in March and network with other award winners and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is unique in that educators can’t apply for the recognition and don’t know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.