Richmond Middle School Teacher Receives $25,000 Milken Educator Award
RICHMOND, Va. — Today Lucille M. Brown Middle School teacher Ryan James received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award during a surprise assembly at the Richmond school. The award was presented by Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples and Milken Family Foundation co-founder Lowell Milken in the school gymnasium before the school’s students and faculty.
On hand for the presentation were Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Education Dietra Trent, Board of Education President Dan Gecker and board member Anne Holton.
James began his teaching career after earning a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University. He has been an eighth-grade history/social studies teacher for five years. Outside the classroom, James is the school’s football coach and boys’ basketball assistant coach.
Nearly 80 percent of James’ students passed the Civics Standard of Learning test — an increase of 5 points from the previous year. The school’s Civics scores are consistently above Richmond Public Schools’ average, including last year’s 77 percent pass rate, which was 10 points higher than the division average.
James was honored as Lucille M. Brown Middle Schools’ 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year.
“I congratulate Ryan James and the entire Lucille Brown Middle School community for earning this well-deserved honor from the Milken Family Foundation,” McAuliffe said. “Mr. James joins the 43 other Virginia teachers who have collectively earned $1.1 million in prize money since the award’s inception in 1999. It’s no secret that Virginia boasts world-class public schools and I am proud that the foundation has recognized the dedicated teachers who make that possible.”
“Ryan James is well known in Richmond for doing whatever it takes to make sure his students understand their rights and duties as citizens and how they can make a difference in our political and economic systems,” Staples said. “He challenges his students every day to do their best and never give up, whether in the classroom or on the football field.”
"Mr. James is the epitome of what this prestigious award represents," said Richmond Public Schools’ Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz. “It takes a truly innovative educator to engage our students in the classroom, and he could not be more deserving of this recognition.”
The Milken Educator Awards program recognizes and rewards teachers, principals and other public school educators who promote excellence and innovation. James is the 44th Virginia educator to receive the award since 1999.
Recipients are selected on the basis of multiple criteria related to instructional practice, leadership, student achievement and accomplishments outside the classroom. Since the launch of the Milken Educator Awards in 1987, the Milken Family Foundation has distributed more than $68 million in awards to more than 2,700 educators across the country including $1.1 million in Virginia.