Lowell Milken Fellows: Week Two

The Lowell Milken Fellowship is a merit-based award for educators of all disciplines who value the importance of teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning, according to a press release from the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes. 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.

While in Fort Scott, LMC Fellows gain knowledge, educational resources and support in helping students cultivate a passion for learning through the creation of 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

Week Two of the fellows welcomes the following educators,  who will be here from June 25 – 30.

Victoria Lightfoot, most recently a 3rd grade teacher and currently an instructional coach in Raleigh, NC, received the honor of being a 2021 North Carolina Milken Educator. Devoted to education, Victoria’s powerful teaching skills made a significant and measurable difference in her students’ learning, and also empowered other teachers. Her outstanding work with students on projects has encouraged her colleagues to follow her lead.

After eleven years in the classroom, Victoria’s transition to instructional coach has enabled her to share the successes she had with her students to help increase achievement throughout the school. The creative and engaging activities that motivated her students to high levels of learning are now shared with other educators while Victoria models, co-teaches, and collaborates with them. She observes lessons, and provides feedback focused on success for all.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Victoria’s excellent skills in the classroom, along with her innovative and creative ideas, motivated her students to high levels of learning. With her experience as an instructional coach, Victoria will bring much collaborative expertise to the LMC Fellowship. We know she will be a great resource for all of us.”


Michelle Wolfe, an English teacher at East Hardy High School in Baker, WV, is the 2021 West Virginia Milken Award recipient. She is also a nationally board-certified educator, an outstanding accomplishment in her career.

Michelle has shared her personal love of writing, literature and poetry with her students. Helping them to understand the importance of what they have to say and the relevance of their experiences makes it possible for them to relate to the world outside of the classroom. Michelle’s students not only excel in writing, but learn to visualize the opportunities possible for their future.

“Michelle’s enthusiasm for providing meaningful learning experiences for her students is a great model for other educators,” Conard said. “We know that she will have much to share with this year’s team of Fellows.”


Lesley Snyder received the 2021 South Carolina Milken Educator while she was teaching English at Dutch Fork Middle School in Irmo, SC. This past school year she was on sabbatical, working as a Teacher Leader in Residence for special grant projects and research with the University of South Carolina.

As a middle school teacher, Lesley created innovative, purposeful learning experiences that motivated and engaged her students. Incorporating Project Based Learning was important to her success in providing real-world connections and “passion projects” for her students. Her zeal for diverse instruction motivated all learners to reach their potential and contributed to high levels of achievement at Dutch Fork Middle School. With her love of education, Lesley also takes advantage of opportunities to share her skills with fellow educators.

“We anticipate that our Fellows group will learn much from Lesley’s wide range of experience with Project Based Learning,” Conard said. “We know she can provide many new insights to its use in developing projects that uncover the stories of unsung heroes. What a great asset to our team!”


Kateryna Molodyk was a Global Teacher Award finalist in 2021, with the outstanding distinction of being the youngest teacher ever chosen for this prestigious award.  She currently serves as Assistant Director of Ukrainian Languages and Literature for students in Cherkasy, Ukraine.

Her creativity and ingenuity in planning educational activities for her 5th-12th grade students is of prime importance to her, as she believes her students need education now, more than ever. While continuing to teach under much duress at this time of war in her country can be challenging, Kateryna perseveres with compassion and understanding for her students.

“Kateryna is an outstanding young woman and truly dedicated educator,” Conard said. “To be named as a Global Award Finalist at such a young age and to tirelessly work for her students under such difficult circumstances make her an incredible role model and advocate for her students. We are incredibly blessed to have Kateryna on our LMC team of Fellows and look forward to all that we can learn from her.”


Jennifer Farr, a 5th Grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Junction City, KS, is a 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist. As an ambassador on the team of TOY finalists, Jennifer has been able to learn from and share with other outstanding teachers. She is passionate about celebrating educators and serves on the Kansas LEADS and regional KTOY executive teams, which both allow her the opportunity to elevate the profession.

Jennifer’s passion for education is clearly visible in her elementary classroom. Her many years of experience in 4th and 5th grade classrooms have only strengthened her compassion for her students. Knowing that the relationships she builds with the children in her classes can help to change their lives emotionally and socially, as well as academically, is an extremely gratifying and humbling experience for her.

“Jennifer has been highly recommended by past Fellows,” Conard said. “Through her past visits to the LMC and her work on numerous projects, we know she will be a valuable asset to our 2023 team. We look forward to furthering our relationship with Jennifer.”


Ali Jun, a music specialist at Tyrone Thompson Elementary School in Las Vegas, NV, was a 2021 Nevada Milken Educator.  Ali’s award recognized her excellence in arts education and her enthusiasm for learning, which is shared, not only with her students, but with her colleagues and the community. Ali also serves on the “Portrait of a Nevada Learner” Committee, as well as the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Cabinet.

Ali’s positivity and uplifting spirit provide a safe and caring learning environment for her students. It is within that environment that students gain self-confidence and learn to use their creative abilities, whether it be trying new instruments for the first time or singing beyond what they thought possible. The critical thinking skills they develop, as well as emotional expression, benefit their learning in every area of the curriculum.

“Ali’s passion for helping her students succeed is contagious,” Conard said. “We are excited to learn more about her innovative and original approaches to student projects, adding a spark of creative thought to our 2023 Fellowship.”




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