Oakland County teacher gets $25,000 Milken Educator award

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

White Lake Township – An Oakland County teacher was given the Milken Educator Award on Friday, a national honor that comes with a $25,000 prize.

Nick Peruski, coordinator of the career and technical education department at Lakeland High School, was named a 2019-20 recipient of the national award. Peruski is the only Milken Educator Award winner from Michigan this year and is among up to 40 honorees.

Nicholas Peruski, center, shakes hands with Michael Rice, Michigan superintendent of public instruction, as Peruski is awarded a Milken Educator Award. Greg Gallagher, left, Milken Educator Awards senior program director, and Huron Valley School Superintendent Dr. Paul Salah, background, also join in the celebration.

Peruski was recognized for preparing students for career opportunities in business, marketing and other fields with an emphasis on non-college options, award officials said. He takes students on class field trips to companies in different industries and prepares students with practice job interviews, resume-building tips and business-plan pointers.

He was presented the award at a surprise school assembly by Milken Educator Awards senior program director Greg Gallagher and Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael F. Rice.

"Mr. Peruski is an innovator in collaborative teaching with students, parents and the community," Rice said. "He is a dynamic mentor and coach for both new teachers and veteran teachers. He connects students from classroom and global perspectives and loves his profession. His career is a case in point of why our best and brightest graduates should seek a career in teaching."

Peruski is known as an outside-the-box thinker dedicated to helping students learn and succeed, school officials said. In a previous role leading a middle school math department, Peruski advocated for and piloted standards-based grading, now used throughout the building.

Peruski mentors new teachers and coaches veterans. He participated in the Galileo Leadership Consortium; taught at China's University of Science and Technology in Beijing, where he developed curriculum for an international school; and presented at an international conference in Lithuania.

The Milken Educator Award aims to reward great teachers and to celebrate, elevate and activate those innovators in the classroom who are guiding America's next generation of leaders, award officials said.

Paul Salah, superintendent of Huron Valley Schools, said Peruski is an example of what makes the school community special.

"Mr. Peruski embodies our mission, which is focused upon inspiring and building futures one student at a time," Salah said. "He deserves this award because of his relentless pursuit of excellence in education."