BLUFFTON, Sc. (WSAV) – Some call it the Oscars of Education, only about 45 teachers around the country get the Milken Educator’s Award every year. This year, one teacher was chosen from South Carolina and she happens to teach at Bluffton High School.
When school started Thursday morning at Bluffton High, everyone was called to the auditorium for an assembly; students and staff had no idea what was going on. The school board was there, the district superintendent and state superintendent… even Bluffton’s Mayor Lisa Sulka.
A woman from the Milken Family Foundation got on the microphone and started talking about the importance of those that dedicate their lives to teach young minds. She said one of the nation’s top teachers was sitting among them and was about to win $25,000 dollars.
That teacher was Mrs. Erin Reichert.
The crowd of students and staff went wild.
“When they called my name, I just I don’t I was in shock and I think I started walking…” Reichert said.
“When I was up there, I got to…look in the crowd, and see these faces that I’ve been around for years, and just do happy,” she added.
“It is one of the most sought after awards,” South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said, “It is not an award a teacher can apply for. The Milken Foundation watches and reads, and investigates who are strong teachers within states.”
Mrs. Reichert’s been teaching for 17 years, 11 at Bluffton High.
“I was very much inspired by a teacher in high school. I didn’t think I wanted to necessarily teach, I really wanted to be involved with social studies,” Reichert said, “And I learned… I think I can do this, I think I could go in the classroom, I think I could inspire students to like social studies as much as I do.”
This year she teaches AP Human Geography, AP Seminar, Youth and Government, and Honors US History.
“She started our Model UN program, she brought the AP Capstone program to our school, she teaches the highest level classes,” said Sophomore Ami Hughey, “She’s the most qualified and wonderful and passionate lady I’ve ever had as a mentor in my life.”
“She’s always been number one, ever since 8th grade actually, before I even had her, she had my brother,” Junior Maile Paulmeyer said “I just heard stories and I was so excited to have her. Freshman year she felt like my mom and ever since junior year she’s been like my high school mom.”
“What I’ve noticed here at Bluffton is that it’s not just about academics,” Spearman said, “Their academics is very strong, but these teachers take time to build young people.”
“People ask me all the time, ‘Why do you do what you do? –You’re working so much, why are you doing this?’ It’s because of them. I see them get excited,” Reichert said, “I don’t think it’s a secret trick, I don’t think there’s any strategy that anybody could teach you, I just think you have to be yourself.”
The Milken Foundation’s Goal is to recognize the importance of teachers and encourage kids to pursue it as a career. Reichert is the 59th teacher South Carolina to get the award since 1982.