South Carolina AP Teacher wins the Milken Educator Award
South Carolina AP Teacher wins the Milken Educator AwardMaria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux Director Media Relations
(Photo courtesy: Erin Reichert with her AP US History Students during graduation in 2017.)
Erin Reichert an AP Seminar, AP United States History and AP Human Geography teacher at Bluffton High School in South Carolina was recently awarded the Milken Educator Award, which is referred to as the “Oscar” of teaching. She is the only award winner from South Carolina for 2017-2018 among 44 winners, which comes with a cash prize of $25,000. Reichert is also responsible for bringing the AP Capstone program to her school.
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, the South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, Beaufort County School District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Moss and the entire staff and student body of Bluffton High School surprised Reichert during a morning assembly in the gymnasium (Watch the video here).
“It was definitely an unexpected moment. Typically a teacher might have that experience at the end of their career, so having it towards the middle was quite a boost. I was definitely not expecting it,” says Reichert. And even though that day she did television and radio interviews and met with state education leaders, she says during her third block, she still had 31 freshman staring at her with the look, “go ahead and try to teach me, I dare you.” Teaching keeps you humble, she says.
The best thing about winning the award she explains is hearing people talking about it and having people come up to congratulate her. She hasn’t decided what she wants to do with the money, but she wants to do something unexpected since it was such an unexpected award and gift.
Reichert credits her positive attitude for helping her teaching career blossom. She always reminds herself to take it one day at time. “This is a long career, so I try to see it as a marathon and not a sprint. Each class, day, and year is different: full of ups and downs. It is the journey that keeps everything interesting,” she says.
If you wonder what the secret to her success is, she says it is very simple. ”Students can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. I think being real, transparent, and vulnerable has been the secret for me. If I have learned anything as a teacher, it is not to compare or try to replicate others, but to be yourself as a teacher,” says Reichert. “Students will always respect you if you tell them the truth and explain your rationale to them. Just being myself has endeared me to my students and it is something refreshing to them. Not putting on a teacher mask, but being real has worked well for me.”
It certainly has.