A fifth-grade English Language Arts and Reading teacher at Clifton Elementary School in Clifton, Texas was surprised in front of an audience of her students and peers on Tuesday morning with the Milken Educator Award, the 'Oscar of Teaching,' becoming the only Texas educator to earn this honor in the 2014-15 season.

Samatha Morgan was given this award directly by Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-Founder Lowell Milken and Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams, along with its attached $25,000 cash prize.

'The Book Lady,' as Morgan is known around her school, uses proven, modern strategies like iPad centers, student-led portfolios and conferences, and extensive graphs to chart her students' progress towards literacy, making reading a priority for these children without sacrificing fun.

Her efforts have demonstrated clear results: over 90% of Morgan's students achieve passing scores against Reading standards, with many children improving their reading fluency by as much as two grade levels during their time in her class.

Photo courtesy of Milken Educator Awards

“Samatha Morgan reflects the very best in Texas public education and represents the excellence we strive to provide for every student in every classroom,” said Commissioner Williams. “Morgan’s commitment to engaging her students every day helps strengthen the future of her community and our state.”

In addition to her time as a Language Arts teacher, Morgan initiates and sponsors the fifth-grade Student Council at Clifton Elementary and volunteers as the director of Clifton High School's theater productions. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Literacy Curriculum and Instruction.

You can discover more about Samatha and the Milken Educator Awards at www.milkeneducatorawards.org/.