From Cathleen Brennan
HOLLYWOOD, FL — No doubt, Luis Espinosa, who leads the Aeronautics STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) Magnet and LEEO (Linking Education and Employment Opportunities) programs at Apollo Middle School in Hollywood, Fla., was excited that Florida’s Com-missioner of Education, Pam Stewart and Superintendent Robert W. Runcie were participating in a school-wide event to recognize the achievements of those two programs. Yet, Espinosa had no inkling that the assembly’s spotlight was about to focus on him.
Before more than 450 cheering students, colleagues and dignitaries, Milken Family Foundation Co-Founder Mike Milken and Commissioner Ste-wart presented Espinosa with a Milken Educator Award, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. In a moment’s time, this outstanding educator experienced the fan-fare typically reserved for all-star athletes and award-winning entertainers.
“This prestigious award represents an incredible accomplishment for Mr. Espinosa and is a testament to his dedication to students,” said Superintendent Runcie. “Not only is he a role model for teachers in Broward County, but also across the country. I congratulate him for this honor and thank the Milken Family Foundation for its support of our outstanding teachers.”
“Teachers hold the keys to success for our children,” said Commissioner Pam Stewart. “A skilled and motivated teacher can open the door to a limitless world of learning. I am pleased to join the generous Milken Family Foundation in honoring one of Florida’s top educators for his creativity and enthusiasm in the classroom and be-yond.
Through his passion for science education, Mr. Espinosa has inspired his students to be curious about the world around them, encouraged them to learn through experimentation and trained them to think critically
about problems they face. Espinosa has truly made a difference in the lives of his students and has helped each build a solid foundation for success in college, career and life.”
Hailed by Teacher Magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” what separates this award from others is that the recipients have no idea they will be honored. This recognition is not a lifetime achievement award. Recipients are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. Encompassed in the recognition is the responsibility for those honored to stretch their professional practices and leadership to even higher levels.
“The idea behind these a-wards is that everyone likes to hand out prizes to our heroes,” said Mike Milken. “We give Grammys to musicians, gold medals to Olympians, Nobels to scientists and others. But we give too little recognition to the people with society’s most important job – educators. Nothing assures the success of a nation more than education; and nothing assures the quality of education more than dedicated classroom teachers instilling a love of learning and sense of wonder in their students.”