Norman kindergarten teacher wins $25,000 national Milken Educator Award

NORMAN (Oct. 23, 2018) — Kindergarten teacher Hailey Couch was surprised today with the national Milken Educator Award at an all-school assembly at Madison Elementary School in Norman. Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Lowell Milken, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister and U.S. Representative Tom Cole presented Couch with the prestigious award that comes with $25,000.

Milken Award announcement

Norman kindergarten teacher Hailey Couch receives a hug from State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister after the big announcement.

“Hailey is an engaging teacher whose leadership and encouragement continually result in extraordinary academic growth for her students,” Hofmeister said of Couch, who teaches in a school where students speak up to 13 native languages. “She celebrates the diversity of her classroom and teaches children to value tradition and embrace different cultures from an early age. Her exemplary talent and dedication demonstrate how young teachers in Oklahoma can make a lasting impact on the future of our state.”

Couch is a leader both at Madison and Norman Public Schools. Teachers from across the district visit her class to observe effective classroom management practices. As part of the University of Oklahoma’s Confucius Classroom, Couch has traveled to China to teach and has hosted international teacher interns in her classroom.

“Hailey Couch is a consummate professional characterized by her classroom management, engaging lessons, attention to data and differentiation,” Milken said. “At the same time, her creativity and caring generate a love of learning in young students that paves the way for their future success.”

Couch, a teacher of six years who was unaware she was being considered for the award, is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Oklahoma this year and is among up to 40 honorees for 2018-19. The award recognizes early- to mid-career educators for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

Hailey with dignitaries

From left, Madison Elementary School Principal Dominic Barone; Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister; Oklahoma Representative Jacob Rosecrants; U.S. Representative Tom Cole; recipient Hailey Couch; Norman School District Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino; Oklahoma Senator Rob Standridge and Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have educators like Ms. Couch in our district,” said Nick Migliorino, superintendent of Norman Public Schools, who was also on hand for the presentation. “Her passion for public education is palpable, and her enthusiasm for creative academic strategies is contagious. She demonstrates exceptional leadership in the field and displays unwavering support for all students. We are proud to have her – and so many others like her – in our classrooms every day.”

In addition to the $25,000 prize, the honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education. Couch will attend a Milken Educator Forum in New Orleans in March, where she will work with state and federal officials on advancing educator effectiveness.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” has been opening minds and shaping futures for over 30 years. The initiative not only aims to reward great teachers but to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders. Milken Educators believe “The future belongs to the educated.”

For more information, visit

To follow the awards on social media, use the #MilkenAward hashtag or visit,,, and

Photos courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation.

Back to Top
Last updated on October 23, 2018