Lowell Milken Fellows (Round Two)

The Lowell Milken Center is located at the corner of First and Wall Streets.

The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, an international educational non-profit, has awarded its prestigious Fellowship.


The LMC Fellowship is a merit-based award for educators of all disciplines who value the importance of teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning. The Center selects exemplary teachers from the United States and around the world who will collaborate on projects that discover, develop, and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history.

Those in Fort Scott from June 23 to 28

Sarah Espinal

Sarah Espinal, a 2023 Discovery Award Winner, is a social studies teacher at Jericho Middle School and High School in New York. Since Sarah is bilingual, she has been able to interact more deeply with students. She wants her students to be deeply informed about their learning and encourages historical thinking. Her emphasis on the importance of identifying the bias and credibility of sources helps her students learn to make informed decisions in life.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “As an ENL social studies teacher, Sarah has used her fluency in both English and Spanish to interact with a diverse group of students. She has guided them in developing many award-winning National History Day projects. Her outstanding skills in project development will be a welcomed resource for the 2024 LMC Fellowship.”

Bibba Kahn

Bibba Kahn, a middle school French and Spanish educator in Montpelier, is the 2020 Vermont Teacher of the Year. She believes that learning a new language begins with valuing people from different cultures and backgrounds who may or may not be similar. To value every individual is a skill Bibba feels is essential in our world today. She gives her students many real-world experiences with language and bases her success as an educator on the success of her students’ learning.


LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Bibba’s love for learning drives her enthusiasm to share knowledge with her students. Through her global travel and teaching experiences, she seeks to reach students of all diversities, valuing their cultural differences. Our 2024 team of Fellows will be fortunate to learn much from Bibba’s vast knowledge base.”

Leah Lawrence

Leah Lawrence, a middle school English Language Arts educator in St. Charles, MO, is the 2023 Missouri Milken Educator. Whether it’s the use of Play-Doh relating to the steps of the writing process or flyswatters that “swat” away errors, Leah’s creative instructional strategies keep her students engaged in their learning and foster their desire to reach their educational goals. Her adaptability in the classroom helps every level of learner have the opportunity to meet with success.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Leah is a gifted educator whose creatively designed lessons pique her students’ interest and motivate them to reach their educational goals. Our staff and the team of 2024 Fellows look forward to the innovative ideas and engaging instructional strategies she has to share.”

Ashley LIbben

Ashley Libben, a 2016 U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Fellow, is a middle school English Language Arts educator in Ligonier, IN. Libben’s use of project-based learning with her eighth-grade students reached a more profound level when her language arts instruction included the teaching of The Diary of Anne Frank. Her students’ interest in the Holocaust grew and ignited questions for which she didn’t have answers. Their interest led her to research answers to their questions and to do more profound research for her own growth in knowledge.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Ashley’s use of a project-based learning curriculum helps her students become adept in research and writing skills while making personal connections with the historical figures whose stories they share. I am confident her experiences will inspire our 2024 team of Fellows.”

Matthew Mayeske

Matthew Mayeske, a 2023 Kansas Milken Educator, is a high school social studies teacher in Gardner, KS. His world history and geography classes come alive for his ninth and tenth-grade students through the integration of real-world scenarios with collaborative, inquiry-based instruction. In yearlong roleplaying games, students create characters and participate in simulation activities. They can also immerse themselves in a French Revolution simulation, a strategy-style conflict activity to illustrate WWI diplomacy or a study of interactive maps using GIS technology. Every strategy transforms his classes into vibrant learning experiences.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Matthew’s students benefit from his unique ability to transform his social studies classes into dynamic experiences with hands-on learning skills. These experiences can be a springboard to his students’ development of Unsung Hero projects and models for our 2024 Fellows in their own classrooms.”

Kelly Steffen

Kelly Steffen, a 2019 Gilder Lehrman Iowa History Teacher of the Year, is a high school social studies teacher in Vinton, IA. She is a master at engaging her students through relevance and the use of primary sources, encouraging students to draw their conclusions about history’s impact on their lives. Kelly hopes students learn that history can help them as citizens to make informed decisions in today’s world. This summer, Kelly will also attend the NEH Heart Mountain Seminar to learn more about the effects of Japanese Internment/Incarceration, another powerful resource for her students.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Kelly’s students are well-versed in the vision of our country’s founders. She emphasizes the use of primary sources for her students’ hands-on projects that focus on the people who shaped our nation. Our 2024 Fellows will be able to use her insight to help their students develop informative Unsung Hero projects.”

Ann Marie Vanneste

Ann Marie Vanneste, a Civics, Careers, Religion, and Learning Strategies educator from Kanata, Ontario, was awarded the prestigious 2023 Canada’s Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence National Recipient. She was the recipient  of the 2023 Director of Education Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Ottawa Catholic School Board, Canada.  Ann Marie is also a 2024 Women Of Courage Award recipient, presented by The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. Devoted to inclusion in education, she wants students to know that someone is rooting for them and their success. She helps her students cultivate pride in their individual cultural places in the world and helps them identify their unique cultural strengths.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Ann Marie’s enthusiasm, along with a teaching approach dedicated to inclusion, has made her students realize their valuable places in this world. All of them are encouraged to reach high levels of learning. The motivating and inspiring projects her students have experienced will be a catalyst for ideas and collaboration with this year’s team of LMC Fellows.”


While in Fort Scott, LMC Fellows gain knowledge, educational resources, and support in helping students cultivate a passion for learning by creating projects that initiate positive change. Fellows will be equipped to develop Unsung Heroes projects with their students, applying and evaluating the stories of these role models who have changed the world throughout history.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *