Elementary School - Photo courtesy of Unsplash

A Norwalk middle-school teacher was awarded a national Milken Educator Award Tuesday with a $25,000 cash prize for her work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, and was hailed by Oprah Winfrey for being among “the most incredible educators around the country.”

Los Alisos STEM Magnet Middle School teacher Angelica Gunderson is the sole educator in California and among more than 60 nationwide to receive the award during the 2021-22 season. She is the first recipient from the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District.

Gunderson is Los Alisos’ lead teacher for Project Lead the Way, a three-year science program that covers coding, robotics, green architecture and more.

“STEM jobs are in high demand, and the excellence Angelica Gunderson demonstrates in preparing students to compete in a global economy is representative of the important work being done at Los Alisos Middle School every day,” said Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher.

“Angelica equips her students with the skills and knowledge to succeed and the confidence and determination to realize their dreams.”

Gallagher and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond presented Gunderson with the award in a surprise ceremony Tuesday before cheering students, colleagues, and state and local dignitaries.

Winfrey, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s recipients in a video message thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona said Milken Educators “personify excellence in education” and “inspire leadership and motivate students to excel.”

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