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TEA News Releases Online Feb. 18, 2016

San Antonio ISD teacher earns $25,000 Milken Educator Award

SAN ANTONIO – Gov. Greg Abbott and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath today joined State Board of Education Member Marisa Perez and Gary Stark, chief executive officer of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, at a surprise ceremony in the San Antonio Independent School District to present Laura Servin with the Milken Educator Award. The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education.

Passionate about teaching and doing whatever it takes to help students succeed, Servin is an eighth-grade math teacher who is known as a go-to expert for motivating students at Whittier Middle School, a health and science internal charter middle school in the San Antonio ISD. Servin is the only Texas educator receiving the national award in the 2015-2016 school year, which is often referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching.” The honor comes with a $25,000 cash prize that Servin can spend however she chooses.

“Teaching is more than just a job – it’s a calling,” said Governor Abbott. “Our teachers do so much more than just share their knowledge and passion for learning, they help students make their dreams a reality. I would like to thank Laura Servin, Principal Janet Perez and Superintendent Pedro Martinez for bringing this tremendous honor to Whittier Middle School and helping elevate the next generation of Texas students.”

Commissioner Morath echoed that sentiment, saying, “Laura Servin embodies the very qualities that make for an effective teacher, and the success of her students is a testament to her dedication. Servin’s hard work to help assure every student has a chance to succeed is indicative of the commitment shared among the many effective educators in classrooms across our state.”

Catering to the school’s 98 percent Hispanic population (including 94 percent of whom qualify for the free- and reduced-price lunch program), Servin communicates to students and their parents in Spanish as well as English, and makes building strong relationships paramount to success. These efforts have resulted in Servin’s algebra students achieving 100 percent mastery on the state algebra test and students in her other math classes obtaining high passing rates.

Beyond the classroom, Servin’s involvement on the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) site team has helped place students on a clear path to college and career, and earned Whittier Middle recognition as an AVID National Demonstration School. She serves on the school leadership team, is a teacher mentor, helps lead the pep squad, and works as the school’s sponsor on the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). One NJHS project involved securing a grant for Amazon Kindle e-readers for students to read to elementary school students and others throughout the community. Servin has also coached seventh- and eighth-grade girls’ volleyball, and has taught summer school (including in reading) to improve passing rates on the state test.

At the district and community levels, Servin has participated in professional development, sharing her practices and bringing valuable lessons back to her school. Her compassion for others is reflected in her lead role coordinating the Race for Cancer activities at school and in the community, honoring a colleague who has ovarian cancer.

Servin earned both her bachelor’s degree and Texas teaching certification from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

Along with the fanfare and recognition, Servin now belongs to the Milken Educator Network of more than 2,600 K–12 teachers, principals and specialists from around the country. In Texas, 48 recipients have been presented with the Milken Educator Award since the program began here in 2000.

The Milken Family Foundation first presented the Milken Educator Awards in 1987. Since that time, it has become the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program and was dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher magazine. More than $137 million in funding, including over $66 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall program, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.  

For photos and video of Servin receiving her Milken Educator Award, visit http://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/laura-servin. For information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit www.MilkenEducatorAwards.org.