Stillwater Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Milken Award

Tammera Mittelstet, a Gifted Resource Coordinator at Stillwater’s Highland Park Elementary and Will Rogers Elementary, was surprised Monday with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award to be spent at her discretion.

On hand to present the award was State Superintendent Janet Barresi and Milken Family Foundation Board Member Dr. Thomas Boysen.

“I’m thrilled for Ms. Mittelstet to win this prestigious award,” Barresi said. “To be recognized as an outstanding educator from among her peers by one of the top supporters of education in the country is an honor. To get to spend this money in any way she would like is a double treat.”


Mittelstet said she was completely surprised when her name was called in front of a school-wide assembly on Monday morning at Highland Park.

“My first thought was did they really say my name,” she said. “I’m so excited for my students to be a part of this. It’s always been about the kids for me.”

Mittelstet said shemost likely would use the award money for her daughter’s college and to help pay for her husband’s PhD. She also fully expects aportion of it to be spent on the children she serves in the school. Superintendent Barresi said she hopes Mittelstet will spend at least part of the money on herself.

Monday’s ceremony was attended by Rep. Lee Denny, R-Cushing; Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater; Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater; Stillwater Fire Marshall Trent Hawkins and Police Captain Randy Dickerson as well as Stillwater Superintendent Ann Caine, Highland Park Principal Kurt Baze, Stillwater School Board President Dr. Michael R. Dicks, and board members Debra Vincent and Kevin Clark as well as past Milken Award winners Sarah Vann, Owasso 8th Grade Center, 2011; Jennifer Lowery, Fairview Elementary School in Moore, 2010; Shelley Self, Coweta High School, 2005; and Darryl Andrews, Yukon High School, 2003.

Mittelstet has held her present position since 2010, working with kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the areas of reading and English language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, and fine arts. 

She has been nominated for Site Teacher of the Year at schools in Stillwater and  Enid. She received a Stillwater Public Education Foundation grant for classroom materials in 2007, and received numerous honors throughout college for leadership roles.

Highland Park Principal Kurt Baze said Mittelstet is a gifted educator deserving of the honor of being recognized as one of the nation's most excellent teachers.

The Milken Educator Award, in its 26th year, is given to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who further excellence in education. Up to 40 educators nationwide will receive the award this year. More than 2,500 educators nationwide have received the award – 26 in Oklahoma—sharing more than $63 million in individual, unrestricted awards. More than $135 million in funding has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout the recipients’ careers in education.

In Oklahoma, a Blue Ribbon Panel appointed by the state Department of Education determines the award candidates. The Milken Family Foundation makes the final selection. Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Selection criteria includes: exceptional educational talent evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results, exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom, contributions to education that are largely unheralded yet worthy of spotlighting, potential for long-range professional and policy leadership, and an inspiring presence that motivates students, colleagues and the community.

New recipients are invited to join the Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,500 distinguished educators plus business leaders from across the country, whose expertise serves as a resource towards shaping the future of education.

The Milken Family Foundation was established in 1982 by Lowell and Michael Milken to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives.  The Santa Monica, Calif.-based foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in education and medical research.

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, go to and follow at, and


Cutline Information: State Superintendent Janet Barresi, Milken Family Foundation Board Member Dr. Thomas Boysen, Milken Educator Award Winner Tammera Mittelstet, Stillwater Superintendent Ann Caine and Highland Park Elementary Principal Kurt Baze pose with a giant check representing the amount Mittelstet was awarded on Monday.

Last updated on December 8, 2017