West Ashley High Teacher Katherine Henderson Receives Milken Award
Watch the video of SC Superintendent Dr. Jim Rex surprising Ms. Katherine Henderson by announcing that she is the recipient of a Milken National Educator Award!
Katherine Henderson, an English teacher and the department chair at West Ashley High School, got the surprise of her professional life on Tuesday, October 20 when State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex made the announcement that she has won the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award and its accompanying financial prize of $25,000. The presentation occurred at a morning student assembly. Henderson had not been aware that she was being considered for this honor.
"We are immensely proud of Ms. Henderson," said Charleston County School District Superintendent Dr. Nancy J. McGinley. "She is a shining example of excellence in her field, and her outstanding work honors not only the West Ashley High School community, but the entire district."
The Milken National Educator Awards, created by Chairman Lowell Milken, are the nation’s largest teacher recognition program. Dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching” by Teacher Magazine, the awards were created in 1985 to reward, retain and attract top professionals to the nation’s schools. Since the program’s inception, more than 2,400 educators have been recognized with more than $60 million in cash awards. In South Carolina's 12 years in the program, there have been 49 National Educator Award recipients from the Palmetto State whose cash awards have totaled more than $1 million.
“To see the stunned reaction of this outstanding teacher when we surprised her this morning – well, it’s something that I will always remember,” Rex said. “Teachers who excel rarely get the recognition they deserve, and when that does happen, it’s truly wonderful to see.”
Henderson has spent 12 years teaching, researching and practicing the most effective instructional techniques. She is considered a “change agent” at West Ashley High who recruits students from diverse backgrounds into her challenging Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Since she arrived on campus, enrollment in her AP English classes has soared from 10 to 69. In addition to her AP classes, Henderson also teaches Tech Prep classes designed to address the needs of students whose post-secondary path is the workplace or a two-year associate degree. Due to her high expectations, her students are better writers, better thinkers and better citizens. Henderson is also attentive to first-year teachers, observing and coaching to provide stability and confidence through constructive feedback, direction and inspiration.
She is certified in both English and Gifted and Talented and has attained a Master’s degree in English from the University of Florida and a MAT in secondary English from the University of South Carolina. She has earned National Board Certification in adolescent and young adult ELA.
Next spring, Henderson and other recipients from around the country will travel to Los Angeles to attend the Milken Family Foundation National Education Conference – three days of workshops, discussion sessions and presentations by nationally recognized scholars and practitioners in the field of education. The Milken Education Conference will culminate in a ceremony at which the recipients will be honored and presented their $25,000 awards.
Educators are recommended for this prestigious honor without their knowledge by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by each state’s department of education. Recipients of the Milken Educator Awards are selected on the basis of numerous criteria, including:
- Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by outstanding instructional practices in the classroom, school and profession.
- Outstanding accomplishments and strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership.
- Strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership.
- Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community at-large.