Fairland Elementary Teacher Surprised with National Teaching Award

January 11, 2023

Dion Jones becomes the nation’s latest Milken Educator Award recipient and winner of $25,000

For full bio, photos and videos, visit Milken Educator Award Profile.

Tenacious, life-changing and a strong leader are just some of the outstanding qualities used to describe Dion Jones, a third grade teacher at Fairland Elementary School, and the latest Milken Educator Award recipient. 

Jones was surprised with the national honor at a vibrant school-wide assembly Tuesday, Jan. 10. Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Jane Foley,  Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury and Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight presented Jones with the prestigious recognition and the unrestricted $25,000 cash prize to be used however he likes.

Jones is among up to 40 elementary educators across the nation who will receive the Milken Educator Award during the 2022-2023 school year. He will also have the opportunity to join the national Milken Educator Network of more than 2,900 exceptional K-12 educators and leaders across the country. Honorees receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles this April.

“Dion Jones’ impact has a ripple effect across his students, their parents, his colleagues and his community,” said Foley, who is herself a 1994 Indiana Milken Educator. “In his young career, he has already demonstrated himself as a leader, a teacher of excellence and a mentor to students and staff alike. For this, we are honored to present him with the Milken Educator Award today!”

The Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The specific states and schools on this year’s winners’ list remain a closely guarded secret until each Award is announced.

"Today we celebrate the work of Dion Jones whose outstanding commitment, passion and creativity capture the skill and art of exceptional teaching, which inspires learning, accelerates academic achievement and grows social and emotional well-being. Earning the prestigious national Milken Award, Mr. Jones has been recognized for setting the standard for student engagement throughout Maryland and across the country," said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. "By thoroughly understanding the needs of his students and tailoring lessons to each scholar's personal interests with enthusiasm and empathy, Mr. Jones has catapulted his students to success and enabled them to reach their highest potential. The State of Maryland congratulates Fairland Elementary School, Montgomery County Schools and Mr. Jones for their steadfast dedication to Maryland students."

"Being given a Milken Educator Award is a tremendous honor," stated Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight. "Dion Jones is recognized by his students and colleagues as an outstanding educator who is committed to ensuring all students are learning. We congratulate him on receiving this prestigious and well-deserved award and commend Mr. Jones for his focus on student well-being and learning."

Since the initiative’s inception in 1987, more than $140 million in funding, including more than $73 million in individual Awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.

More About Dion Jones

In Jones’ classroom, students are “scholars,” a moniker they live up to every day. He keeps students engaged by tailoring lessons, tasks and activities to their personal interests. Thanks to Jones’ focus on both academics and social-emotional learning, his students’ performance shines. In 2021-22, they delivered 79.7% of the district’s projected growth in reading, 84.4% in math.

Jones is a leader at Fairland and sits on the instructional leadership and school improvement plan teams. He trains and supports student teachers and educators new to the school and district, and he welcomes peer observers into his classroom. Jones has presented to Fairland staff and helped lead the school’s efforts around equitable practices in teaching. 

Jones earned a bachelor’s in elementary education in 2016 from Coppin State University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2020 from Grand Canyon University.

More About the Milken Educator Awards

“The future belongs to the educated.” For 35 years, the Milken Educator Awards, an initiative of the Milken Family Foundation, have rewarded and inspired excellence in the world of education by honoring top educators around the country with $25,000 unrestricted awards. Not an accolade for “lifetime achievement” or the proverbial gold watch at the exit door, the Milken Educator Awards targets early-to-mid career education professionals for their already impressive achievements and, more significantly, for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.

For more information, visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.



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