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Two Virginia Teachers Receive Prestigious Milken Educator Awards

Hanover County and Alexandria City Teachers Recognized with “Oscars of Teaching”

Post Date:03/19/2024 2:21 PM

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2024

RICHMOND — Two Virginia educators have been recognized today as recipients of the Milken Educator Award and honored for their dedication to education and the impact they have in their classrooms and communities.  Travis Dodds, a science teacher at Hanover County’s Atlee High School, and Eva Irwin, an English teacher at Alexandria’s Alexandria City High School, were presented with the award today at surprise assemblies at their schools. 

“Virginia has excellent teachers in our children’s classrooms and I was thrilled today to be able to honor two of the best, not only in the Commonwealth but in the nation,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons.  “I was grateful to be surrounded by Mr. Dodds’ and Ms. Irwin’s students and fellow educators to help recognize their outstanding performance.  The powerful impact they make every day is so impressive, and I was thrilled to bring their communities together to celebrate their work.” 

Dodds and Irwin were awarded the Milken Educator Award at their schools today by Lowell Milken, philanthropist and Chairman of the Milken Family Foundation, and Superintendent Coons.  The Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards reward teachers, principals and other education professionals who promote excellence and innovation in public education. Recipients are selected based on multiple criteria related to instructional practice, leadership, student achievement and accomplishments outside the classroom. Not designed as a lifetime achievement honor, recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved – and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities afforded by the award. The honor also includes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize awarded to the recipients.   

In addition to the cash reward, both recipients will attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles in June 2024, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to broaden their impact on K-12 education. The honorees will also receive powerful mentorship opportunities for expanded leadership roles that strengthen education practice and policy. 

Since the launch of the Milken Educator Awards program in 1987, the Milken Family Foundation has distributed more than $70 million to over 2,800 educators, including more than $1.1 million in Virginia.   

Honoree Information 

Travis Dodds has been an educator since 2013. As Atlee High School’s science department lead, Dodds’ AP biology, anatomy, and physiology classes are in such high demand that school administrators had to increase the number of classes available to students. In the classroom, Dodds provides opportunities for his students to connect to the material through innovative, real-world approaches to the curriculum, extending their scientific learning far beyond his classroom walls. With the mindset of a lifelong learner, Dodds engages in professional development and cross-curricular instruction to optimize learning opportunities for his students while advancing his own instructional practices and those of others. 

Dodds is National Board Certified. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Tech in 2010 and his Master of Education degree from the University of Richmond in 2015. 

Eva Irwin is an English teacher at Alexandria City High School.   Committed to her classroom and community, Irwin fully immerses students by tying lessons to real-world examples, differentiating instruction to accommodate learning styles and abilities, and continuously interacting with students and soliciting their feedback. Along with being the grade 11 English team professional learning community lead, Irwin is also the English department’s representative on the Staff Advisory Council, a member of the school’s Culture and Climate Committee, and chair of an advisory committee working to oversee and improve the school’s targeted, needs-based instruction. Students and peers can regularly find her at school events, dedicating her time to after-school functions, and even assisting with cafeteria duty. Her leadership also extends to the court. As an assistant coach, Irwin helped lead the varsity volleyball team to a state championship in 2022 and serves as the head coach for the junior varsity team. 

Irwin completed her Bachelor of Arts in child development and education at Washington and Jefferson College in 2014 and earned a Master of Arts in educational leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech in 2021. 


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