Wachter Middle School teacher Erica Quale was surprised at a school assembly today when she received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award.

Quale is one of over 60 teachers nationwide to receive the cash award for the 2021-22 school year and the only recipient in North Dakota.

Informally referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards are aimed at celebrating the American teaching profession and inspiring young people to join it.

In honoring Quale, the award committee noted her efforts in making history come alive for her eighth-grade students, with a goal of making U.S. history relevant to her students’ lives. “She emphasizes collaboration, instills confidence and encourages students to find creative ways to demonstrate their learning,” the Milken Educator Awards group said in a news release.

They also noted how, in 2019, she worked tirelessly to help prepare her students for the state civics exam. That year, 99.9 percent of Wachter Middle School’s eighth graders passed the rigorous exam, beating the state average by nearly 15 points.

“Erica Quale is a true educator at heart, and her excellence and commitment to teaching show in everything she does,” said Greg Gallagher, senior program director at the Milken Family Foundation. “Erica is a leader both inside and outside of the classroom, and we are proud to honor her with this Award today.”

More information about Quale, plus links to photos and video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/erica-quale