Coweta teacher gets $25,000 surprise

Friday, November 4th 2005, 10:15 am
By: News On 6

A Green Country high school teacher got a surprise bonus when she arrived at work Friday, a check for $25,000.

The Coweta art teacher was given the Milken National Educator Award, for excellence in the classroom. The prestigious award is granted every year to only two teachers in each state.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin has more.

“The Milken Family Foundation National Educator award goes to Shelly Self!" Shelley Self: “We heard some wonderful words about how important teaching is, and that's always great to hear as a teacher and then I got the wonderful surprise and blessing to hear my name, so that was even better, that it was my name."

It's been called the Oscars of teaching, every year the Milken Family Foundation recognizes some of the best educators in the country. And it's more than just a pat on the back, with the title, comes $25,000, to use any way the honorees wish.

"So I feel very, very grateful. Very lucky, in fact, for the whole school district and the community."

For Self, being named one of America's finest teachers means more than just her own name recognition, it also brings honor to Coweta High School and she hopes, will show the importance of art in education. "Well I have a passion for art. I'm an artist and a teacher, and I feel like I have a lot to give. I think that when you teach that's what you're doing on a daily basis, giving and hoping that the others are receiving.”

One look at her classroom tells you the message is getting across. Student Brandi Oliver: "I was so excited when she got it, she deserves it. She's really nice and she helps me when I need help and she helps other students, she's just a really nice teacher. She seems like a friend."

Self credits the support of fellow educators along the way for helping shape her career. Even with 14 years experience she says she's still growing as a teacher and can't imagine dedicating her life to anything else. "I'm very, very happy to represent the Coweta school district, and I'm very happy to be an art teacher."

Milken award recipients are invited to a national education conference held in their honor next May in Washington.

The other Oklahoma honoree is a 6th grade math teacher from Edmond.