Lexington Latin Teacher Earns Prestigious Milken Educator Award and $25,000

apple on stack of books in front of chalk board

Lexington Middle School teacher, Kimberly Freeman, was announced a recipient of the Milken Educator Award on Feb. 9, 2016, reports a release from the Milken Educator Awards. 

Freeman, a Latin instructor and the language department chair at the middle school, was surprised during a school-wide assembly. South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly M. Spearman and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley announced the news, and other notable officials and the media were in attendance.

Students screamed with delight, as though Freeman were a “rock star” reports The State.

Indeed, the Milken Educator Award, known as the "Oscar of teaching", is something to shout about, as the award recognizes early- to mid-career educators for excellence. Freeman is among up to 40 educators who will receive the national honor, which has been recognizing elementary and secondary educators since 1987.

Freeman actually was a student of Lexington Middle School, where she now teaches sixth to eighth grade. The State reports that school officials commend her for reviving the struggling Latin program with ideas like project-based learning where students use “social media tools to learn about local and global issues.” She has helped reach 23,000 students district-wide through virtual courses.

“Kimberly Freeman has built Lexington Middle School’s Latin program into a vibrant community of learners spanning the district,” said Foley. “Her passion, leadership and engaging instruction help students make important connections between Latin and its practical applications across the curriculum. I look forward to her contributions to the Milken Educator Network, and to following her career, shaping generations of global citizens.”   

Freeman is credited for aiding a district-wide shift in performance-based curriculum for world languages. Freeman developed an assessment that uses a scaled model, based on performance rubrics, self- and external assessments, and Socratic seminars. Students, Freeman’s school, and the district have thrived under her leadership.

“I am so proud of Kimberly Freeman and the devotion she exhibits every day to the students and community in Lexington,” said Spearman. “She is truly deserving of this great honor and will stand as a shining example for educators across our state. I want to thank the Milken Family Foundation for their hard work, recognizing educators like Kimberly across the country. I am appreciative of our strong partnership and look forward to future collaboration to honor other outstanding South Carolina educators.”

ColaDaily reports that Freeman is the first South Carolina teacher to receive an Educator Award for the 2015-2016 school year. Though she has not made plans for the $25,000 she was awarded, she believes some of the money will go to student loans, but some will also, of course, go back into her classroom.