Fourth-grade teacher in Mitchell awarded $25,000 Milken Educator Award

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Each year a national education foundation awards teachers for their work in and out of the classroom. This Wednesday morning a Mitchell elementary school teacher got the surprise of a lifetime when she found out she won.

It was an all school assembly secretly planned in her honor. Amanda Christensen is a fourth-grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary. An educator who not only touches the hearts of her students but also got the attention of the Milken Family Foundation.

“Absolute in complete disbelief; I just can’t believe this is happening. It’s amazing I’m just lost for words” says Longfellow fourth-grade teacher Amanda Christensen.

Each year the foundation goes across the United States, awarding $25,000 to teachers making a difference in their classroom and community.

“For them to know about what we do in South Dakota and let alone in Mitchell, South Dakota our little town. I mean its mind blowing as my kids would say” says, Christensen.

Although Christensen was shocked to receive the big award, those who work with her aren’t.

“She’s just innovative and creative and not afraid to step outside the box and try something new and broaden the horizon for her students in her classroom, ” says Longfellow principal Lisa Heckenlaible.

Christensen says she owes a lot of this honor to her High School science teacher.

“She really took me under her wing and just gave back to me when I needed a teacher the most. Cause of her I really wanted to go into education and make a difference. So I’m so thankful I had that experience” says, Christensen

A difference that’s now impacting others.

“Amanda inspires her student-teacher.She has a student-teacher with her this year. She shares that with her colleague in fourth-grade she’s just been a true inspiration to her” says, Heckenlaible.

Christensen is the only Milken Educator Award winner from South Dakota this year and the first from Mitchell School District since 2003.

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