Nearly One Year Later, Teacher Still Surprised by $25,000 Award

King accepts her cash prize with Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, Knox Co. Director of Schools Jim McIntyre, and her principal Kay Wellons.

Bobi King is still reeling from the surprise of receiving a national honor last December. King was one of only 33 teachers across the country to receive a 2012 Milken Award after her principal secretly nominated her. Milken Awards are given out annually to teachers across the country for excellence in education. It is easy to hear King smile as she remembers the details of the day. The entire student body was called for a school assembly. King first thought the school was being recognized, but quickly realized they were celebrating an individual. You can watch the wild outbreak of applause from her third grade class and King’s moment of surprise in this video at

“When I stop and think about it, I was one of 33 people in the United Stated chosen for something I didn’t even know existed. I woke up that morning thinking I was going to an assembly, and it was going to interrupt my math schedule.”

The surprise ceremony did interrupt King’s math lesson, but only temporarily. The first thing she did as a Milken winner was finish that lesson for her class.

King wears a crown for a day, posing with her nephew, also a student at Farragut Intermediate.

With the national honor also came a check for $25,000. Money that King says she has saved so far.

When we asked what made her stand out against other applicants, she humbly replied, “probably because my principal wrote such a great letter.”

King admits it is still hard to read the recognition letter from her principal, mainly because she knows she is surrounded by a team of incredible educators. New letters, email, and calls immediately poured in after the ceremony, something King describes as one of the best parts of this recognition. One of the most memorable from King’s own second-grade teacher. King says another landmark moment was when the mayor of Farragut declared Bobi King day in January; King celebrated by teaching her third-grade class.

King has spent 10 years teaching third grade at Farragut Intermediate School in Knoxville, and also attended Farragut Intermediate as a child. She says she has a long career in education ahead of her, and looks forward to surprising future Milken Award winners.

Milken Awards are given out across the country each year to one teacher in the 49 eligible states that apply. Winners are secretly nominated by coworkers and selected based on their teaching excellence. Seven winners have already been announced for 2013.  The surprise award ceremonies begin in October and will continue until late February.

You can view all past winners from Tennessee here.