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Johnny Belcher, a mathematics and physics teacher at Pikeville High School, is Kentucky’s newest recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which includes a financial reward of $25,000.

Belcher was notified of his award today, when Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, University of Pikeville President Paul Patton, Milken Family Foundation representative Sheila Duncan, and local dignitaries visited his school.

The Milken Educator Awards are the nation’s preeminent teacher recognition program, having honored more than 2,500 K-12 teachers, principals, and specialists coast to coast with over $63 million in individual, unrestricted $25,000 awards.  Awardees are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved … and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future. In the fall, when the notifications are made during all-school assemblies—filled with cheering students, proud colleagues, an entourage of distinguished officials, and the media—each new Milken Educator is caught completely by surprise. In a moment’s time, they experience well-deserved acclaim and receive what Teacher Magazine hails as the “Oscars of Teaching.”

Belcher earned a bachelor’s degree from Alice Lloyd College and a master’s degree from Morehead State University. He is working toward a doctorate at the University of Louisville and has achieved Rank I and certification as a supervisor of instruction.

Belcher has taught at Pikeville High for 14 years and is the department chair and instructional supervisor in mathematics for Grades 7-12. As math department chair and coach, it is no surprise that Johnny Belcher prepares his students at Pikeville High School to succeed in class, college, and their future careers. Teaching is a way of life for Belcher, and he can be spotted instructing students everywhere on the campus–whether it is in his classroom, the hallways, the lunchroom, or even on the way to his car.

Students are captivated by his teaching approach. Belcher is known for the rigor he instills in each of his lessons, using grouping, one-on-one, and peer-to-peer instruction, as well as mentoring to make the content engaging and relevant for his students. He also incorporates technology by designing computer units to correspond to math lessons and using a SMART board. Students can be confident that they are learning from the most up-to-date instructional materials.

As a result, Belcher‘s students have the highest ACT scores in the region and rank 12th in the state.They also report high success rates in college.

As part of his leadership role in the math department, Belcher meets with colleagues to evaluate test data and perform assessments to identify student needs. He also helps the science department with data analysis. Belcher is a member of Pikeville High’s Comprehensive School Improvement Planning Committee and Academic Committee and serves as the school’s representative for the Instructional Support Network at the Kentucky Department of Education. He has also helped to develop End-of-Course (EOC) algebra assessments for the state through work with the University of Louisville.

As Kentucky’s Milken Family Foundation National Educator, Belcher will receive a check for $25,000. There are no restrictions on the use of the award — the winners may use the money in any way they choose.

The award provides public recognition and a cash reward to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other education professionals. The foundation was established in 1985, and the first awards given in 1987. Kentucky has participated since 1993, with 52 recipients since then. This year, more than 50 educators nationwide were selected as winners.

Sources: and the Milken Family Foundation (