Watertown teacher earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Abby Turbak received the first-ever Milken Educator Award for the Mitchell School District.
Abby Turbak received the first-ever Milken Educator Award for the Mitchell School District.(Dakota News Now)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A Watertown elementary teacher received a surprise $25,000 Milken Educator Award for teaching excellence Friday morning.

According to a press release, Abby Turbak of McKinley Elementary School is the first educator in the Watertown School District to be awarded the prestigious honor. Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher and South Dakota Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson presented Turbak the award in a schoolwide assembly of students, colleagues, and local and state representatives.

The Milken Educator Award recognizes outstanding educators and leaders who serve as models for innovation and dedication in their work. Reasons for granting Turbak the award included maintaining high expectations for her first grade students, expertly integrating technology into her curriculum, and sharing her passion for professional development with her colleagues.

“South Dakota’s teachers make a tremendous impact on the lives of our young people. Abby Turbak has proven that when we focus on student growth and challenge them to succeed, they will rise to the occasion,” said Secretary Sanderson.

The Milken Family Foundation award comes with a $25,000 cash prize that Turbak can use however she chooses. By accepting the award, Turbak joins the Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 outstanding educators from across the nation.

“I am thrilled to welcome Abby Turbak to this vast and talented group of Milken Educators that spans the country,” said Gallagher. “Today we honor Abby and celebrate her unwavering dedication to excellence in education, which is evident through her innovative teaching methods, devotion to her students’ needs and demonstrated leadership in her school and district.”

Turbak graduated from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, with a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2010 and a master’s in elementary and early childhood education in 2011.