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Junior High master teacher first in Slaton ISD to receive $25,000 Milken Educator Award

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath congratulates TAP Master Teacher Katie Negen of Slaton Junior High, winner of a 2017-18 Texas Milken Educator Award and $25,000. (Milken Family Foundation photo)

The roar from the audience reached the rafters of the Slaton Junior High School gym, where master teacher Katie Negen became the first educator in the district to receive the Milken Educator Award. The honor comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize.

Negen is among up to 45 educators who will receive the prestigious recognition during the 2017-18 season. Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley – herself a 1994 Milken Educator from Indiana – was joined by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and Slaton Independent School District Superintendent Julee Becker. A stage full of dignitaries and educators was also present to honor Negen, including city and county officials, Texas Tech University administrators and professors, and members of the Slaton Retired Teachers Association.

The Milken Educator Awards, hailed by Teacher magazine as the “Oscars of Teaching,” has been opening minds and shaping futures for 30 years. Research shows teacher quality is the driving in-school factor behind student growth and achievement. The initiative’s goals are two-fold: to celebrate, elevate and activate innovators who are guiding America’s next generation of leaders and to inspire young, capable people to consider teaching as a career. Milken Educators believe, “The future belongs to the educated.”

“As a master teacher, Katie Negen helps to create a collaborative culture for teachers and students to learn and grow,” said Foley. “The ongoing support she provides to teachers has a direct impact on the achievement growth of the students. Katie is a valuable asset to the school leadership team, and I look forward to her role nationally as part of the Milken Educator Network.”

About Milken Educator Katie Negen

At Slaton Junior High School, Katie Negen serves on the leadership team, working hand-in-hand with fellow master and mentor teachers and administrators to move the whole school forward. Her role is made possible through the implementation of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, an initiative of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) that provides opportunities for teacher leadership, job-embedded professional learning, educator evaluation and performance-based compensation.

The TAP structure has shown to directly improve teaching methods and student performance at Slaton Junior High, where nearly 80 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Slaton Junior High’s number of Texas Education Agency distinction designations has increased from two (2015) to five (2017) out of a possible seven. Today, the school is ranked in the top 10 percent in the state for student progress and closing the achievement gap.

Through her guidance as a TAP master teacher, Negen holds weekly professional learning sessions aimed at improving instructional practices in the classroom. Teachers critically analyze student data, field-test strategies with groups of students before transferring the learning to the classroom, and actively monitor students’ growth. Using this combined research, Negen conferences individually with teachers to develop action plans that address student needs. Coaching, follow-through and feedback are performed to assess the progress of their goals and adjust strategies as needed. These actions have helped every student in Negen’s teaching area to gain at least a year’s growth, with single digit gains in reading and double-digit gains in science for 2016. Negen also recognized the need to reform the discipline program, which has aided learning through positive reinforcements.

Negen is the go-to person for staff on campus as well as at the district level where she is a member of the District Ed Council, Curriculum Committee and Level Leadership Team for Instruction. Her expertise was instrumental in a curriculum-writing initiative that aligned academic goals with state standards. Negen has shared her insights and experiences as a teacher leader with the national TAP network and members of the U.S. Department of Education.

Negen earned her bachelor of science degree in multidisciplinary studies in 2007 from Texas Tech University, specializing in 4th-8th grade English, language arts, and reading.

More information about Negen, plus links to photos and a video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at

Slaton Jr. High educator Katie Negen (center) is presented with a check for $25,000 after winning the 2017 Milken Educator Award. From left: SJH Principal Jim Andrus, Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley, Negen, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, and Slaton ISD Superintendent Julee Becker.

Earlier this morning, English language arts teacher Jennifer Fuller of Arlington Collegiate High School was also presented with the Milken Educator Award. More information about Fuller can be found here:

“Jennifer Fuller and Katie Negan reflect the very best of the teaching profession in Texas,” said Morath. “Their hard work in the classroom, coupled with an ongoing commitment to student success, help illustrate why effective teachers deserve our respect and gratitude for helping shape the future of Texas.”

Milken Educators are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. In addition to the $25,000 prize and public recognition, Negen’s honor includes membership in the National Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,700 top teachers, principals and specialists dedicated to strengthening education.

In addition to participation in the Milken Educator Network, 2017-18 recipients will attend a Milken Educator Forum in Washington, D.C., March 20-23, 2018. Educators will have the opportunity to network with their new colleagues and hear from state and federal officials about maximizing their leadership roles to advance educator effectiveness.

More than $138 million in funding, including $68 million in individual $25,000 awards, has been devoted to the overall Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional learning opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees and be placed in prominent posts and on state and national education committees.

The Awards alternate yearly between elementary and secondary educators. Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Award is completely unique: Educators cannot apply for this recognition and do not even know they are under consideration. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then are reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by state departments of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients have used their Awards to fund their children’s education or their own continuing education. Others have financed dream field trips, established scholarships and even funded the adoption of children.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The Milken Educator Awards tour is on social media at,,, and

For more information about the Milken Educator Awards, visit or call MFF at (310) 570-4772.

 About the Milken Educator Awards

The very first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation 30 years ago in 1987. The Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish.

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