Anderson wins Milken Educator Award |

Anderson wins Milken Educator Award

Joanna Welch

It was a defining moment in Eric Anderson’s career as a science teacher.

Anderson, who is known for his tie-dye lab coat and humorous one-liners, was lost for words Thursday.

An eighth-grade teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School brought his class into the multi-purpose room at 12:30 p.m. for a surprise assembly.

To Anderson’s surprise, he was named a winner of the 1999 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.

Along with the prestige of the award, Anderson will receive $25,000.

Anderson shook his head in disbelief and playfully smacked his cheeks when he was called upon to receive the award.

“There is no way, no way,” he said. “I can hear my class now, ‘Why isn’t he talking?'”

“Speech, speech, speech,” the students quietly chanted from the bleachers.

“I don’t know what to say. This is such a huge honor,” Anderson said. “They say that you’re not really defined by what you do but who you are. But in my case, what I am is a teacher.”

Anderson joins a middle school administrator and two middle school teachers in Nevada to receive this year’s award – 172 awards were presented nationwide.

Recipients are selected by an independent committee.

Members are appointed by each state’s department of education to look for teachers who have developed innovative curricula, have an ability to instill students with sound values, and have a commitment to professional development.

Other Carson City teachers who have received the Milken award in past years include Chris Whitcome, who teaches at Eagle Valley Middle School, and Jessica Daniels, who teaches at Carson Middle School.

The award is sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation, which was founded by brothers Lowell and Michael Milken.

The Milken brothers were a product of public education and they credited their success to their teachers, said Julius Lesner, executive vice president of the foundation, who presented Anderson’s award.

“They (the Milken brothers) felt the need to let the country know that there are excellent teachers who deserve more money,” he said.

“Whether it’s in acting or sports, society likes to recognize leaders. It’s important that we recognize people to make this country great, but so little recognition is given to teachers,” he said. “How many times has a teacher helped you?”

Anderson knew that he was nominated, but he said that as he looked around the room he was convinced that the one of his eighth-grade teaching colleagues would receive the award.

Anderson did not know when or how he would celebrate.

He said since Friday is a school day, he doubts his family would celebrate Thursday night and on Friday he would be attending a chemistry conference in Reno.