Carson High School music teacher Nicolas Jacques receives his Milken Education Award obelisk from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert on Wednesday in his band room. (Photo: Jessica Garcia/Nevada Appeal)
Carson High School band director and Milken Educator Award recipient Nicolas Jacques finally received his Milken Award obelisk Wednesday during class with a personal visit from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert.
Jacques was named one of two Milken Award winners in October 2019, both of whom were from Nevada, a rarity for the Milken Family Foundation that recognizes outstanding elementary and secondary teachers, principals or specialists who are furthering excellence in education and are early to mid-career.
They are awarded based on the potential of what they will accomplish as their profession continues. If selected, they receive unrestricted financial rewards of $25,000 that have been used in various ways such as continuing their own education, taking their own dream trips, establishing families and adopting children or other lifelong pursuits.
Jacques is now in his 10th year of teaching and was at Carson Middle School at the time, where he managed the site’s concert, marching and jazz bands. He was informed of his selection during an assembly with Gov. Steve Sisolak, First Lady Kathy Sisolak, Ebert, members from the Milken Family Foundation, Carson City School District administrators and his own students present.
On Wednesday, he provided a recap of the experience to his current band students during class, describing preparations for Nevada Day at the time and that it had been a secretive process. School district administrators typically don’t know what their own nominees are under consideration for when they’re contacted for outstanding candidates.
“I thought we (as a band) usually don’t get this surprise treatment … and they called it the ‘Oscars’ of education,” Jacques told his music students Wednesday. “And I was in shock when they announced my name. That’s after I got the district teacher of the year award earlier that spring. It was an overwhelming year overall in a lot of cool ways to have that happen preceding the other type of overwhelming year 2020 was. But it’s been a wild ride and that’s been the craziest year to happen to me being surprised like that.”
Jacques said he was “totally shameless” about his reaction at the assembly.
He earned his National Board Certification in 2018 and also was a finalist for Nevada’s Teacher of the Year in 2019.
As Ebert, CHS Principal Bob Chambers and Vice Principal of Career and Technical Education Amy Freismidl walked in to provide Jacques with his official obelisk, long delayed due to COVID-19, Jacques explained to his band class how he originally had been selected and that it was a secretive process. He described he didn’t know he was even under consideration for the award.
Ebert, after leaving Jacques’ classroom, told the Appeal his character and his willingness to work with his students best demonstrates why he deserves the Milken Award.
“Mr. Jacques, when you think about him and what he does for children, and he comes with the energy of more than an Energizer bunny – I’ve seen him in our Nevada Day Parade with the students, seeing him in the classroom, just seeing him – he exemplifies inclusiveness, making sure that all of our students are included in the educational environment, he’s your go-to guy,” Ebert said. “What’s unique about him is not only reaching his students but the families and the communities and bringing everyone together so they feel part of the educational system and as you can see, the students enjoy who he is.”
Ebert said she hoped to see many more educators from Nevada being celebrated as Milken recipients.
The other Nevada recipient from 2019 is Ben Nguyen, teaching manufacturing, automation and robotics at Sunrise Mountain High School in Las Vegas.