Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards
December 9, 1999


Thank you, Deputy Superintendent Cheryl Mayo. It's really my pleasure to be here today. Out of all of the educators in all of the school districts spanning our state, only four were selected as Milken Family Foundation Educators and we are gathered today to recognize and honor these four outstanding educators. Receiving a Milken Award is a stupendous honor.

Jim Boyce, Janeen Grimes, Madonna Hanna and Kay Lehmann earned this honor by being committed to professional development, and for their exceptional educational talent and promise as demonstrated by outstanding practices in the classroom, the school, and the community. But it all boils down to is this: These four were selected because they are the best educators in our state. And that's an awesome feat.

Each of these four educators will receive $25,000 with which they can do with whatever they want. The sky's the limit! They can install a hot tub in their back yard if they want. Buy a grapefruit grove.

Take a vacation to Maui. Adopt a child. Buy lottery tickets. Invest in emus. The only thing limiting their options will be their own imaginations. Thus, the options are limitless. Because these educators have proven they have vivid imaginations and know how to pass the torch and ignite the imaginations of our children.

There are no restrictions on how this money is to be spent, because these educators have never allowed restrictions on how their energy is spent in the school house.


The families and friends of these outstanding educators are in the audience with us today. And I bet they have done more than their share of the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the household chores-providing the support that allows these educators to apply their passion and go the extra mile to really give their all for our children. So will the friends and family members of these honored educators please stand? Let's give them a round of applause.

You all know-in fact, you could probably all join in right about now…education is my number one priority. Education is the great equalizer and the great economic energizer. And my administration is dedicated to creating the strongest education system. Because a strong education system is the backbone of a strong society.

And passionate educators are the marrow keeping the educational backbone and the body of society strong and healthy.

It won't matter a hoot what kind of education system we create if we don't have outstanding educators such as those we honor today, to flip the switch in the minds of our children-turning on their thirst for knowledge and igniting their imaginations. Steering them away from negativity and towards self-confidence. Steering them away from drugs and self-doubt and towards potential and achievement. Steering them away from fear and insecurity and towards leadership and friendship.

Because kids are what it's all about. Our children are enthused about going to school every day when they know someone positive waits for them there. Someone they can turn to with their problems. And their dreams. These educators before us have instilled in their students the desire for lifelong learning. The passion to go out there and "reach for the stars."

These educators teach their students the most priceless lesson of all:

That the sky is the limit.

These educators also create a support system for their colleagues. It's teachers and principals like these that other educators turn to for advice and inspiration and understanding in times of need. Their influence is exponential. Their passion, unending.

They say that a good teacher can save you ten years. I say a good teacher can save your life. And I just want to personally thank Jim Boyce, Janeen Grimes, Madonna Hanna, and Kay Lehmann. I want to thank you for your excellence in education, and for all you are doing to help make Washington a state of learning.
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