It was the surprise of a lifetime for Ana Gutierrez when she was presented with the prestigious Milken Educator Award—and its accompanying $25,000 cash prize—before a schoolwide assembly at Osborn School District’s Longview Elementary School on March 26.
Gutierrez helps drive instruction at Longview as a master teacher in TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement. The TAP System is a comprehensive initiative implemented districtwide that is focused on increasing educator effectiveness and improving student achievement growth.
Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken, joined by Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, delivered the news of the award. The cash prize of $25,000 is unrestricted, meaning Gutierrez can use it for anything she wants.
The Milken Award recognizes exemplary elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists who are furthering excellence in education. You cannot be nominated for the award, nor can you self-nominate. Each state’s Department of Education appoints a blue ribbon committee to confidentially source candidates. So recipients like Gutierrez have no idea they are even being considered.
“We’ve been presenting these awards for almost 30 years because we believe—and the research proves it—that effective educators represent the most important school-based factor in improving student performance,” said Lowell Milken. “Ana Gutierrez plays an integral role in Longview Elementary’s efforts to raise student achievement growth by developing a strong instructional team. She is a trusted mentor whose work in sharing best practices and guiding others is making a difference at the school, district, state and national levels.”
Gutierrez spoke with heartfelt gratitude after receiving the award. “I came to Longview six years ago and every day I come to school hoping to make a difference,” she said. “Every day, when we come to work, is an opportunity to learn with you, to teach, and to hope for a brighter future.”
Gutierrez started working with the TAP System as a career (classroom) teacher at Longview Elementary, and became a TAP master teacher in 2013. In this role, she was integral to the school’s TAP Leadership Team, made up of mentor teachers, master teachers and administrators all focused on moving the whole school forward.
“Obviously Longview has done very well and came to our attention because of the outstanding work that is being done here every day,” Milken said.
Due in significant part to Gutierrez’s leadership, Longview Elementary’s AIMS Reading scores have risen from 59 to 66 percent between 2012-2014, and AIMS Math scores increased from 46 to 53 percent during that same time period. Longview—a Title I Focus School—moved from a C to a B under Arizona’s letter-grade system.
Beyond the school, Gutierrez collaborates with TAP master teachers and administrators districtwide in creating and researching strategies that support educators and students alike. Her accomplishments took her to Capitol Hill, where she presented on comprehensive educator effectiveness models.
Gutierrez is a first-generation college graduate. She received a B.S. in Child Development and Family Studies and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. She is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership at Grand Canyon University.