Roosevelt H.S. teacher receives $25,000 Milken award

SIOUX FALLS - A Roosevelt High School teacher received an award this week that came with a bit of a bonus - $25,000, to be exact.

Gina Benz, an English teacher, was awarded the Milken Educator award on Tuesday. The award is considered the "Oscar of Teaching," according to Teacher magazine.

Benz teaches Advanced Placement Language and Composition as well as Foundations of Language and Composition, a class that includes English language learners and special education students. School officials say she is known for getting results from her students, whether they are high achievers or struggling learners. She is also the AP coordinator for the school.

Benz mentors new and veteran teachers, and her school’s leaders often seek her input. Benz received a Bachelor of Arts in English and secondary education from the University of Sioux Falls and a master’s from South Dakota State University.

The Milken Educator Awards were was established by Lowell Milken to recognize the importance of outstanding educators and encourage talented young people to enter the teaching profession. Since South Dakota joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 2002, a total of $450,000 has been awarded to 18 South Dakota recipients.