Tualatin High grad receives prestigious Milken Educator Award
A Tualatin High School graduate recently became the recipient of the prestigious an annual Milken Educator Award.
Last month, Aubrey Flowers was presented with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award in front of students, colleagues and others at Council Oak Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she serves as the school's principal.
"Flowers is known as charismatic, engaging and inspiring to both students and faculty and cares deeply about students' academic success," states a news release announcing the award. "Council Oak was among the district's top-performing elementary schools when she took the helm in 2017, but she was determined to show growth, especially in math."
Flowers said she was completely surprised by the award, having no idea she would be honored during a school assembly. She'd been led to believe it was to honor the state superintendent of education, whose visit they had been preparing for several months.
"Never did I imagine she was coming to the school to join the Milken Family Foundation as they presented this award!" Flowers wrote in an email.
Flowers was one of 60 educators across the nation who received a Milken award this year.
In addition to the cash prize, Flowers, who graduated from Tualatin High School in 1998, joins the national Milken Educator Network, an elite group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists.
Talk show host and producer Oprah Winfrey, a longtime education advocate, congratulated this year's Milken Educator Award winners via videotape.
Flowers said what she enjoys most about her job is the joy she finds from "helping adults understand that children are amazing thinkers" and how much they stand to learn from them.
"I get to make sure that we are putting children first. I like that I get to learn from children and speak on their behalf," said Flowers, who graduated from Portland State University in 2003. "Coming to the principal's office is no longer considered a punishment. We have changed that narrative. Children have a voice at the table."
Among the other reasons Flowers was selected for the award, according to the organization, was because she "excels at projecting a calming, confident leadership style that encourages students and colleagues to strive for excellence.
During COVID-19 school closures in 2020, Flowers adapted the school's strategy toward virtual learning to accommodate younger students who were struggling to remain focused during Zoom instruction."
Flowers was also on board when the original name of her elementary school, named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was changed. After public input, Flowers pushed for the name Council Oak, commemorating a historic tree near the school. The tree was where the Creek Nation Council first met in 1836 after being forcibly resettled in Oklahoma.
Flowers said she and her husband moved to Oklahoma in 2006 to be closer to her family after having their first child. The couple, who now have five children, try to return to the Tualatin area at least every year to visit other family member and friends.
Flowers said she hasn't decided yet what to do with the cash portion of the Milken Educator Award.
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