Carson Middle School teacher receives $25,000 award |

Carson Middle School teacher receives $25,000 award

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Ellen Fallon, a sixth- and eighth-grade math teacher at Carson Middle School, walks to the podium after she was named the winner of a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award during a ceremony at the school on Wednesday. Fallon received a check for $25,000.

Ellen Fallon didn’t want to leave her classroom Wednesday afternoon at Carson Middle School to attend an assembly allegedly about bullying.

But the math teacher is glad she did. It grossed her $25,000.

Fallon, who has been teaching math for 13 years at Carson Middle, was chosen as the recipient of a Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.

“I was overwhelmed,” said Fallon. “I had no idea. This is a huge award.”

No one at the school except Principal Sam Santillo knew the true reason for the assembly.

“They said it’s about school bullying,” said eighth-grader Maggie Garcia, 13, who tried to get Michael Milken, co-founder of the Milken Foundation, to spill the beans prior to the start of the assembly. “Is it about safety?”

In attendance Wednesday were Milken, State Superintendent of Education Keith Rheault, Carson City School District Superintendent Mary Pierczynski, news agencies, other officials, Fallon’s husband, Kevin, who is an English teacher at CMS, her two children, brother and mother.

Fallon, who sat with her eighth-grade advanced-math students during the assembly, was visibly surprised when her name was announced. She said it was true she didn’t want to come to the assembly.

“I hate losing instructional time,” she said. “I was asking the principal how long the assembly was going to take. I’m getting a hard time now. Everyone’s saying, ‘Aren’t you glad you went?'”

More than 2,100 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers across the United States have received the $25,000 awards, totaling more than $54 million, since the Milken Family Foundation National Educator awards started in 1987.

Santillo, who had Fallon’s mother and brother hide until her name was announced, said Fallon is an exceptional teacher.

“She’s very committed to her kids,” he said. “She sets high expectations for them as well as for herself. It’s nice to be recognized for having teachers on our staff who work hard.”

During the past four years, more than 96 percent of Fallon’s students have passed the algebra test for high school, omitting them from the need to take the course.

Pierczynski said Fallon often stays late working on lesson plans and has even tutored during lunch.

“She’s a very dedicated teacher,” she said. “She has very high expectations and that’s exactly what we want to see in the district. We’re very proud of her.”

Many of Fallon’s advanced-math students, who hugged her after the announcement, were glad she received the award.

“She’s a really good teacher,” said Carli Dodge, 14. “I learn so much from her. She’s always there to help you.”

“She has the hardest job,” said Kevin Kurek, 13. “Although (class is) really hard sometimes, she works through it with us.”

Fallon, who said she has no idea what she will use the money for, is the fifth teacher in the Carson City School District to be chosen as a recipient of the award.

n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.

Milken Educator Award winners

Previous winners of the awards in the Carson City School District:

• Jessica Daniels, now a vice principal at Mark Twain, won as a teacher at Carson Middle School in 1993

• Chris Whitcome, a teacher at Eagle Valley Middle School, won in 1995

• Eric Anderson, an Eagle Valley Middle School teacher who died last year, won in 1999

• Julie Reid, a teacher at Eagle Valley, won in 2003