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‘An obvious treasure’: Central HS history teacher Aaron Kruger wins Milken Educator Award, $25K prize

Central High School teacher Aaron Kruger speaks to an audience as Gov. Mark Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon look on Friday morning at Central. Kruger was awarded the Milken Educator Award and $25,000 for excellence in the classroom. (Courtesy of Laramie County School District 1)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Central High School history teacher Aaron Kruger is so renowned around the halls of the building that students who want to take his courses are often put on waitlists.

But on Friday, Kruger’s teaching ability and care for education became renowned beyond Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Kruger was named Friday as one of 60 recipients nationally for this year’s Milken Educator Award — a distinction the organization calls the “Oscars of Teaching” — being lauded for a teaching style that “empowers open discussion, fosters critical thinking and promotes the cross-disciplinary skills students need for success in high school and beyond,” per a Milken news release.

Kruger was not told in advance of a ceremony in Central’s gymnasium that he’d be winning the award, which has no formal nomination or application process. Instead, he was announced as the winner in front of a celebratory crowd of students and spectators — including Gov. Mark Gordon and First Lady Jennie Gordon.

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As Milken caught Kruger’s reaction to the announcement, it’s clear that the occasion is worthy of his “Wow” exclamation, indeed.

“A hearty congratulations to Aaron Kruger for being named a Milken Educator. What an obvious gift for teaching he possesses — and what an obvious treasure he is to his students,” said Brian Schroeder, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, in Milken’s release. “With Aaron’s love of the subject matter, his engaging classroom teaching methods, and his measured, professional approach, he certainly sets the bar high for all who teach.”

Kruger earned an unrestricted $25,000 prize with the award, and he’ll attend the Milken Educator Awards Forum later this year, where he’ll be taught by former award winners in a mentoring program for “ways to elevate their institutional practice.”

The release lauded Kruger as a joy in the classroom, often having students take the role of historical figures in instruction and placing an emphasis on writing skills. He’s also previously served as the district’s history department chair, revamping the LCSD 1 history curriculum with what the release notes is a “methodical and measured” approach.

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“One of an educator’s greatest gifts is making content relevant to everyday life, thereby deepening their students’ understanding of purpose and impact in today’s world,” said Milken Educator Awards Senior Program Director Greg Gallagher in the release. “Aaron Kruger is clearly passing along a passion for self-discovery and lifelong learning to the next generation, and it’s one of the many reasons why we’re proud to welcome him as a Milken Educator.”

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