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Romig Middle School teacher honored with Milken Educator Award


Award, dubbed the Oscars of teaching, came as a complete surprise
Mark Elfstrom, a Romig Middle School math and science teacher, was awarded the national Milken Educator Award during a surprise ceremony today at the school. Elfstrom will receive $25,000 from the Milken Family Foundation later this spring.

Elfstrom is in his 11th year of teaching at Romig. He also serves as the school's wrestling and track and field coach.

Romig principal Sven Gustafson said Elfstrom is a great role model for middle school students and many students request to enroll in his classes. In a letter of support, Gustafson wrote, "Mark has a knack for turning around kids both academically and behaviorally. He inspires students to do more, be better, and try things they are not comfortable with. Mark has turned lives around, and continues to do so. He is an exceptional motivator, education and person."

Elfstrom was unaware that he was being considered for the recognition. Staff at the school was told to attend an assembly earlier this afternoon on Social and Emotional Learning. It was then he was surprised with the award.

Referred to as the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher Magazine, the Milken Educator Awards were created in 1985 to reward, retain and attract the highest caliber professionals to our nation's schools. A committee formed by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development identifies and evaluates educators and administrators for the award. The Milken Family Foundation makes the final section based on educational talent, accomplishments beyond the classroom, leadership, and engaging and inspiring presence. The $25,000 awards can be used any way recipients choose. Up to 100 winners nationwide are selected each year. Elfstrom is one of eight ASD teachers who have won the Milken Award since 2000.

Elfstrom is a finalist for the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and he was honored earlier this month by the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

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