North Pole Science Teacher Chosen For Excellence

Dec 17, 2019

From left, Alaska Education Deputy Commissioner Karen Melin; Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward; recipient Rebecca Missler; Greg Bringhurst, regional director and rural advisor for Alaska U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan; FNSBSD Superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik; and Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards.
Credit Robyne

A teacher at North Pole High School won a national award this morning. Rebecca Missler was surprised by the Milken Family Foundation as one of only 40 nationwide to get the award. With it comes $25,000.


You can’t apply for the Milken Award, and you can’t nominate someone for it.

An award recipient herself, Foundation representative Jane Foley pumped-up the students at an all-school assembly by telling them why one of theirs was selected.

“You probably don’t know much about the Milken Family Foundation. But the Foundation knows a lot about you! We heard about your school, your staff.”

Because of the prestige of the Milken Award, which comes with an unrestricted $25,000 prize, the assembly also hosted four Interior legislators, the school board, and Karen Maline (Mah-LEEN) Alaska’s deputy commissioner of Education.

If any of that was lost on the students, Foley made sure they got it when she called the Milken Awards the “Oscars of Teaching.”

“The best athletes get the Heisman Trophy, entertainers have Emmys and Oscars, in science and medicine we have Nobel Prizes. But our educators that have the most important job of all, teaching the all the people who get all the other awards, they haven’t had that kind of celebration. And the people at the Milken Foundation set out to change that.”

And finally, the surprise was revealed and Rebecca Missler was named.

“This is incredible, I’ve been teaching at North Pole for I think, 11 years, now. You are very true to yourselves, you’re respectful, and they are the reason we come to school every day.”

She was recognized for her teaching of chemistry, paleontology and geology, but also the innovations she brings to hands-on learning in her classroom. Click here for more about Rebecca Missler from the Milken Foundation.

There have been 71 Alaska winners since 1987 and some of them joined Missler at the mic.

“Le Bron McPhail, Mat-Su school district 2000, I’m Amy Vinlove, when I received the award in 2000 I was a third-grade teacher at Nordale Elementary School here in Fairbanks and now I’m director of the School of Education at UAF, so be a teacher, come to UAF. Marty Foster 1999, 20 years ago, Math and I’m still teaching here in Fairbanks, and I’m Tim Klien also 1999, I’m Shelly Bifelt I won the award in 1993, which is before any of you were born, and probably some of your teachers. Congratulations Rebecca, I’m Vallerie Ballard from 2017.”

After winter break, Missler can prepare to attend the Milken Educator Forum in Indianapolis in March.