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Maestro Salais wins Milken Educator Award


Lansing: Spanish teacher Alfonso Salais, Jr. along with over 1,800 staff and students were surprised on Nov. 4 when they went to the auditorium at Everett High School to hear what they believed to be a speech about education.


Instead, Salais was presented with the Milken National Education Award, recognizing his teaching achievements. Salais was one of two teachers from Michigan to be presented this year with this prestigious award.

Surrounded by his students, Spanish teacher Alfonso Salais, Jr., of Everett High School in Lansing MI, holds up a blue envelope representing his $25,000 Milken Educator Award. (Photo courtesy of the Milken Family Foundation)

The Milken Family Foundation, based in California, goes nationally rewarding some of
the best teachers in the United States during National Notifications Oct. 24 – Nov. 4.


Dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Awards were created by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken in 1985 to celebrate, elevate, and activate the highest caliber professionals in our nation’s schools. 


From Oct. 24 – Nov. 4, up to 100 unsuspecting secondary teachers, principals, and specialists throughout the U.S. were surprised with the news of their $25,000 awards, which can be used any way they choose, during emotional, schoolwide assemblies attended by federal, state and local officials, students, peers, and community leaders.


According to the Foundation, the single most important school-based factor impacting student achievement is having a talented teacher in the classroom.  The difference between an effective and ineffective teacher can be a full grade level of student achievement in a single year.  


Recipients are presented with their unrestricted $25,000 award checks at the annual Milken National Education Conference, an all-expenses-paid professional development conference held in Washington, D.C.


There are many firsts in Alfonso Salais Jr.’s Spanish program at Everett High School. He created the state’s first and only high school mariachi ensemble, an award-winning, ethnically diverse group that travels around the country promoting Spanish and Latino culture through music. And his students often win first place in Central Michigan University’s Foreign Language Day Competition, for everything from original Spanish-language skits and songs to interpretive readings of Spanish poetry.


Bringing high enthusiasm and energy to his teaching of Spanish, Maestro Salais is advisor of the Spanish Club, for which he has organized and implemented educational and cultural trips to Chicago, México, and Spain. Under his tutelage, the Advanced Placement Spanish program has grown from only two students to 14, with many of these students entering college Spanish classes at the junior level.






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