Plymouth High School English teacher receives Milken Educator Award, $25,000

The award is colloquially referred to as the ‘Oscars of teaching’
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 5:46 PM EST
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PLYMOUTH, Ind. (WNDU) - English teacher Joshua Dingeldein thought he was bringing his class to an assembly to hear some motivating words and was not expecting to receive the Milken Educator Award on Thursday.

It started off as an assembly in the gym of Plymouth High School this morning. Students filled the bleachers as Doctor Jane Foley from the Milken Family Foundation spoke about why everyone was called into the gym.

“This year, we are going nationwide to present Milken awards to educators. There are many outstanding teachers and principals in this country, and one of the best teachers in the country, out of 3 million teachers, is here in your school,” Foley said. “And before we leave, a teacher at Plymouth will receive this national award. The Milken Educator Award is so prestigious they call it the ‘Oscars of teaching.’ Yes, the Oscars of teaching!”

Dingeldein marks the first recipient from the Plymouth Community School Corporation to receive the award since its inception in 1987.

Dingeldein has been a teacher for nine years and says he was not expecting to hear his name called. Along with the Milken Award, Dingeldein also received $25,000.

“The moment I heard my name read, I tried to wake up. To be honest, I thought this couldn’t be happening; this is not possible. I started to tear up immediately because I just want to make a difference for one student, and to be recognized at this level makes me feel so surreal,” said Dingeldein. “I truly believe that God placed me in this field to make a difference. I had teachers make a difference in my life, and just the opportunity I am presented with every day to try and make a difference for a student that maybe he or she feels stuck in a hopeless state or feels like they will never be able to reach their dreams. If I can just get through to one kid, it’s worth it. At the end of the day and end of a career, it’s worth it as long as I got through one single kid.”

After, he called his wife but only to share the news but to say thank you.

“I wanted to tell you because you have just been so supportive,” said Dingledein on the phone.

“Aww, I’m so proud of you,” replied his wife.

“I know, I know…It’s not me. It’s just God’s help, it’s uh, I just wanted to say thanks cause I know you have been very supportive and just …. Day in and day out, you encourage me and you help me to keep my head on straight to be able to go back into the building to just invest in kids and stuff so I wanted too share the news with you and say thank you,” he said.

16 News Now asked Dingeldein what his plans are with the $25,000 check reward, and he said he would be donating a portion to multiple charities, and the rest would be for his son’s education.