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Petal Upper Elementary Teacher Receives Prestigious $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Tyler Shows

October 18, 2022

PETAL, Miss. – Petal Upper Elementary School educator Tyler Shows, fifth-grade math, received the surprise of a lifetime this morning when he was awarded the prestigious $25,000 Milken Educator Award at a special assembly in the school storm shelter.

Often referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards, created by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987, have rewarded and inspired excellence in the world of education by honoring top educators around the country with $25,000 unrestricted awards to be used however they wish. The Milken Award targets early to mid-career education professionals for their already impressive achievements, and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.

“We are so Panther Proud of Tyler Shows for receiving the Milken Educator Award,” said Dr. Matt Dillon, Petal School District superintendent. “He is very deserving of this special honor. Mr. Shows is passionate about his craft as a teacher and PLC leader. He builds positive relationships with his students and faculty and is always prepared to go the extra mile.”

“Our district is very fortunate to already have one Milken Award recipient, Kathryn Daniels, and we are thrilled to add Mr. Shows to that list,” Dillon said.

Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 

“Mr. Shows genuinely loves children and loves teaching,” said Emily Branch, Petal Upper Elementary principal. “His passion for his work drives him, his students, his colleagues, and even his administrators to reach higher levels of success on a daily basis. Mr. Shows does not lead from the sidelines; he purposefully builds relationships with students, teachers and families to create a feeling of community and shared responsibility,” Branch said.

Shows was honored in the presence of students and colleagues who thought they were assembled for a site visit from Interim State Superintendent of Education Dr. Kim Benton to commend them on their A rating and performance as part of Mississippi’s Accountability System for Grading Schools and Districts. Benton joined Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, in surprising Shows with the award. Other state dignitaries and local officials were also in attendance for the surprise.

Shows, a National Board-Certified Teacher, serves as the Professional Learning Community leader for fifth-grade math, which has ranked No.1 in MAAP proficiency in the state for the past three years, and as grade level chair for fifth grade. He also serves on the Teacher Advisory Council for the Mississippi Department of Education, as well as on the World Class Teaching Program at The University of Southern Mississippi as a facilitator for teachers seeking National Board Certification.

Shows, now in his ninth year of teaching fifth-grade math at Petal Upper, was named Teacher of the Year in 2019. He earned a bachelor’s in accounting from The University of Mississippi and a master’s in gifted education from William Carey University. He is a 2008 graduate of Petal High School.

Along with the financial prize, Mr. Shows will join the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,900 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

The Milken Awards will honor up to 40 elementary educators in the 2022-23 school year. Over the past 35 years, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients' careers.

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