Nevada Department of EducationNevada Department of Education

Henderson Special Education Teacher Receives Milken Educator Award

April 12, 2024

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Henderson special education teacher Joseph Kielminski was surprised during a school assembly on Friday with the national Milken Educator Award.

Kielminski, who teaches at Foothill High School, will receive a $25,000 unrestricted financial award from the Milken Family Foundation.

The Milken Educator Awards, often referred to as the “Oscars of Teaching,” celebrate outstanding kindergarten through 12th grade teachers, principals, and specialists.

“Joseph Kielminski is an exemplary special education teacher who goes above and beyond for his students,” said Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction. “His efforts extend beyond the classroom walls to ensure that his students have access to college and career opportunities, which includes hands-on learning experiences.”

Ebert was joined at the surprise awards ceremony on Friday by Gov. Joe Lombardo; Dr. Brenda Larsen-Mitchell, interim superintendent of the Clark County School District; and Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards.

“I am pleased to recognize Joseph Kielminski, an outstanding educator who exemplifies the hard work, passion, and dedication of our state’s public school teachers,” Lombardo said. “Educators like Joseph make a meaningful and tangible difference every day in the lives of students.”

“Joseph Kielminski is an outstanding educator, leader and relationship-builder,” Dr. Foley said. “Joseph’s tireless commitment to providing rich educational opportunities and enhancing instruction is making a positive impact on Foothill and the Henderson community. Congratulations, Joseph, and thank you for your dedication to shaping the future for young people every day.”

**More About the Recipient **

Kielminski is the special education department chair at Foothill High School. His efforts have contributed to an increase in the graduation rate among the school’s special education students.

Kielminski plays an instrumental role in initiatives at Foothill such as the Special Olympics and Best Buddies programs. He also created on-campus initiatives such as a sign language club, classroom garden, hot beverage cart service, and a campus and classroom cleanup group.

Kielminski works with his colleagues to ensure that students receive an introduction to elective classes such as video production and ceramics.

Additionally, he encourages his students to attend a career development and transition conference in Reno, where they gain valuable leadership skills.

Kielminski mentors teachers who are involved in the Specialized Programs Teacher Assistant (SPTA) and Alternative Route to Licensure (ARL) programs.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2013 and a master’s degree in teaching autism in 2019 – both from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

**More About the Milken Educator Awards in Nevada **

In Nevada, 93 educators have been recognized and received more than $2.3 million in financial awards since the state joined the Milken Educator Awards program in 1988. Kielminski is the second Nevada recipient this school year.

The Milken Family Foundation – headquartered in Santa Monica, California – has recognized more than 2,900 educators nationwide since the program’s inception in 1987.

Kielminski will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Milken Educator Awards Forum in June in Los Angeles. He will also have access to mentorship opportunities.



About the Nevada Department of Education

The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) leads and collaborates with Nevada’s 17 school districts and the State Public Charter School Authority to advance educational equity Statewide. With offices in Carson City and Las Vegas, NDE oversees all pre-K-12 education in the State, working to achieve its mission to improve student achievement and educator effectiveness by ensuring opportunities, facilitating learning, and promoting excellence. Under the leadership of the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, NDE impacts the achievement of nearly half a million children and 30,000 educators. Learn more at and join us on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Instagram.

About the Milken Educator Awards

The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. Created by philanthropist and education visionary Lowell Milken, the Awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The Milken Family Foundation celebrates more than 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at

Julie Wootton-Greener

Public Information Officer