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Milken Award Winner Named At Whittier Middle School

Louisa Jonas
Texas Public Radio
Laura Servin shakes Texas Governor Gregg Abbott's hand after receiving the Milken Educator Award.

Laura Servin, an eighth-grade teacher from San Antonio's Whittier Middle School, learned this morning at a surprise school assembly that she was the sole recipient in Texas for the prestigious Milken Educator Award.

It’s like winning an Oscar but for teachers — and it comes with a $25,000 check.

Governor Gregg Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath sneaked in for the planned school assembly but neither Servin nor school officials knew the purpose of their visit.

The assembly started like a pep rally with cheerleaders and the National Anthem, followed by the announcement of Servin’s achievement.

She is the first winner ever to be named for the San Antonio Independent School District. The assembly held in the gym is part of the Milken Family Foundation’s coast-to-coast tour honoring top teachers. 

Louisa Jonas is an independent public radio producer, environmental writer, and radio production teacher based in Baltimore. She is thrilled to have been a PRX STEM Story Project recipient for which she produced a piece about periodical cicadas. Her work includes documentaries about spawning horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds aired on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Louisa previously worked as the podcast producer at WYPR 88.1FM in Baltimore. There she created and produced two documentary podcast series: Natural Maryland and Ascending: Baltimore School for the Arts. The Nature Conservancy selected her documentaries for their podcast Nature Stories. She has also produced for the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Distillations Podcast. Louisa is editor of the book Backyard Carolina: Two Decades of Public Radio Commentary. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her training also includes journalism fellowships from the Science Literacy Project and the Knight Digital Media Center, both in Berkeley, CA. Most recently she received a journalism fellowship through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she traveled to Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska to study climate change. In addition to her work as an independent producer, she teaches radio production classes at Howard Community College to a great group of budding journalists. She has worked as an environmental educator and canoe instructor but has yet to convince a great blue heron to squawk for her microphone…she remains undeterred.