Little Rock teacher named Milken Award winner


LITTLE ROCK — A Hungary-educated fourth-grade teacher in the Little Rock School District was honored Monday as a 2012 Milken Educator Award winner.

Gov. Mike Beebe, state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell and Gary Stark of the Milken Family Foundation presented the award to Zsuzsanna Diamond at Otter Creek Elementary School.

Diamond has taught in the Little Rock School District for five years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Mihaly Csokonsi Vitez Teacher’s Training College in Kaposvar, Hungary.

The state Department of Education said Diamond is known in the district as a passionate and creative educator with a special talent to connect with children.

Her ability to foster an open, community-like classroom environment has proven effective for students and has earned her the respect of her colleagues, according to the department, which said her involvement at the school ranges from curriculum development to providing professional learning.

Diamond was selected as one of 10 participants from the Little Rock district to attend the Exxon Mobil-Mickelson Math and Science Institute in 2011.

“Great teachers change lives, inspire excellence and shape the future. They come to work each day exited to share their love of learning, knowing they can make a difference. They believe in their students and work tirelessly to help them reach their potential,” Kimbrell said in a release announcing the award.

“But far too often, these dedicated educators do not receive the appreciation or recognition they deserve,” he said. “The Milken Family Foundation is committed to changing that, shining the light on the profession and saying a very big thank you to outstanding young educators like Zsuzsanna Diamond for all they do every day.”

The Milken award, which comes with an unrestricted payment of $25,000, honors exceptional educators for their work. Educators do not apply for the award, nor are they aware they have been nominated for the honor.

About 40 educators around the country will receive Milken awards this fall. The program has been administered in Arkansas since 1991, and there have been 69 Milken Award winners so far in the state.