Kimberly Collins, UMF 2009 graduate and Milken Educator Award winner. Contributed photo

FARMINGTON – The Milken Family Foundation has announced that Kimberly Collins, a University of Maine at Farmington 2009 graduate and educator at Virginia Beach Middle School in Virginia, was recently surprised with a $25,000 Milken Educator Award. According to the release, Collins, the school’s first coordinator for Advancement Via Individual Determination, was awarded for her dedication to fostering critical thinking and self-confidence for students to succeed in their continued careers in school and life. 

“Kimberly Collins prioritizes her students’ needs and creatively adapts her teaching strategies to accommodate them,” said Stephanie Bishop, vice president of the Milken Educator Awards and a 2001 Milken Educator from Virginia. “Today we celebrate Kimberly, welcome her to our national Milken Educator Network and look forward to the value and insights she will bring to an outstanding group of the nation’s best educators.”

As stated in the release, until his year, Collins was an English teacher for sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and prioritized student independence and social emotional learning to realize students’ full potential. As a classroom teacher, Collins designed rigorous learning plans that challenged students’ thinking, encouraged them to take ownership of their learning and included regular goal-setting and opportunities for self-reflection. Collins leverages her talents in her current role to broaden her impact on the school at large. Creating a culture of calm and mutual respect, Collins ensures students are comfortable and engaged, understanding that building relationships with them is crucial to student achievement.

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it. The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.