Idaho Falls assistant principal wins $25,000 Milken Educator Award

IDAHO FALLS — Kelly Sheridan had no idea the assembly she helped plan to welcome State Superintendent Debbie Critchfield was actually for her. 

Sheridan, the assistant principal at Compass Academy, was presented with a Milken Educator Award — and a giant check for $25,000 — in front of students and staff Wednesday morning. 

“(Sheridan) combines a deep technical knowledge of the art of leading a school with the energy, creativity and adaptability needed to influence individual students,” Critchfield said. “She is an inspiration both in and out of the classroom and I am so happy to honor her today.”  

The award, dubbed the “Oscars of Teaching,” aims to “celebrate, elevate, and activate” the K-12 profession and inspire young people to pursue teaching as a career. This school year, up to 75 educators will be honored nationwide by the Milken Family Foundation

The process for selecting honorees — educators who have demonstrated “excellence and innovation” — is confidential, but is done in conjunction with the Idaho Department of Education. 

Sheridan was chosen partly for her “instructional leadership, collaborative spirit and eye on data,” according to Stephanie Bishop, vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. 

Sheridan started at Compass Academy — a project-based 9-12 magnet school in Idaho Falls School District — as an art teacher. She’s known for “infusing art into core curricula, serving as an instructional leader, and forming trusted relationships across the faculty,” according to a press release. 

Kelly Sheridan, assistant principal and dean of students at Compass Academy, is Idaho’s most recent Milken Educator. Photo: Milken Family Foundation

As a school leader, Sheridan “never settles for complacency sitting in front of her computer” and is often out in the hallways or the classroom, greeting students, collaborating with colleagues, or communicating with parents. 

She’s also contributed to the school by:

  • Leading teams: Helping to lead a team dedicated to designing and implementing professional development
  • Coordinating tests: Serving as a school coordinator for the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT assessments
  • Increasing grad rates: Helping to increase the school’s graduation rate, which is higher than district and state levels, by monitoring student progress and engaging with families
  • Planning family outreach events and building partnerships: Working with local coffee shops, libraries, and museums to display student work; Partnering with the local zoo to produce an art exhibit for Earth Day
  • Being involved: Serving as an active member of the Idaho Association of School Administrators, the district’s graduation committee, and the school safety committee
  • Taking on extra duties: Serves as Compass’ summer school director

“Sheridan is a perfect example of the incredible influence that accomplished leadership can have on students, teachers and the community,” Critchfield said.

Idaho joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 2003. Since then, 19 Idaho educators have won the award, receiving a combined total of $450,000. 

Other recent winners include:

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro

Carly Flandro reports from her hometown of Pocatello. Prior to joining EdNews, she taught English at Century High and was a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. She has won state and regional journalism awards, and her work has appeared in newspapers throughout the West. Flandro has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and Spanish from the University of Montana, and a master’s degree in English from Idaho State University. You can email her at [email protected] or call or text her at (208) 317-4287.

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