News

For Immediate Release
October 10, 2007

Chicago teacher earns national recognition for her commitment and dedication to students


Las Casas teacher selected for Milken National Educator Award

CHICAGO – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Milken Family Foundation announced today Chicago Public Schools Teacher Katherine Whitington has been selected for the Milken National Educator Award. Whitington, a Reading/English/Language Arts teacher at Las Casas Occupational High School will receive $25,000 as part of the award.

“Teaching is much more than just instructing students in the classroom. It’s a commitment to putting students on the right track in all aspects of their lives so that they can be successful not only in school, but life itself,” said Dr. Vinni Hall, member of the Illinois State Board of Education. “I want to thank the Milken Family Foundation for their commitment to recognizing these teachers that go above and beyond.”

Whitington, who has been at Las Casas for seven years, is described by her colleagues as an educator who is constantly seeking out new and better ways to help her students learn. She doesn’t allow the “labels” her students wear to define their learning potential. Her focus is fixated on helping students learn and succeed. Once, a student was stranded by an abusive boyfriend in the middle of the night and didn’t know who to call, so she called Katherine who got out of bed and picked the girl up.

Lowell Milken, chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation was joined by local dignitaries, politicians and members of the Illinois State Board of Education at an assembly at Las Casas where the surprise announcement was made. The prestigious award is given annually to teachers demonstrating exemplary teaching skills and a personal commitment to education. Each winner receives $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation which they can use however they wish.

Whitington doesn’t allow the “labels” her students wear to define their learning potential. She frequently uses unconventional strategies to help make the subject relevant for students. Whether it is bringing in rap and hip-hop performers and setting a topic to music, or finding ways to tie Romeo and Juliet to today’s world, Katherine constantly encourages her students to be the best they can be.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Milken National Educator Awards. Up to 80 recipients across the country will receive the honor. Since the program’s inception there have been more than 2,300 recipients. Illinois began participating in the program in 1988 and, including this year’s winners, has honored 104 educators across the state. New recipients will attend the annual Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference, held in Los Angeles. The conference includes enlightening panels, professional development activities and a spectacular gala celebration honoring the recipients at which time they are presented with their award checks.