Pass Christian High School Principal Dr. Robyn Killebrew earns “Oscar of Teaching” as Mississippi’s only Milken award winner this year

Dr. Robyn Killebrew, principal of Pass Christian High School, is named the Milken Educator of the Year. (Photo by Milken Family Foundation)

A Mississippi coast educator received the honor of a lifetime when she was surprised at a school-wide celebration earlier this year . Dr. Robyn Killebrew has been known to highlight her staff and students’ accomplishments, but it was Dr. Killebrew’s turn in the spotlight. In front of a gymnasium packed with her students, peers, visiting dignitaries, family, and media, State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright and Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley surprised Killebrew with the prestigious Milken award that comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Dr. Robyn Killebrew is among only 44 honorees for the 2017-2018 school year and is the only Milken Educator Award winner for Mississippi this year.

“Dr. Killebrew is a remarkable example of excellence,” said Dr. Carla J. Evers, Pass Christian Superintendent of Schools. “She demonstrates a strong commitment to our beliefs by holding students and staff accountable to rigorous expectations for teaching and learning. I cannot think of a more deserving educator for this prestigious award. We are proud that Mississippi’s newest Milken Educator is a Pass Pirate and the leader of our flagship!”

Dr. Robyn Killebrew, principal of Pass Christian High School, is a Milken Educator of the Year for 2017-18. (Photo by Milken Family Foundation)

A former coach, Dr. Killebrew is known as an enthusiastic instructional leader who is always motivating her staff and students to do “whatever it takes” to achieve success. She has been instrumental in launching programs that have been successful at the high school level, including a Freshmen Academy that assists in the transition to high school and an ACT “boot camp” that has helped to place Pass Christian High School as the top ACT performer on the coast. Additionally, Dr. Killebrew invites community members to “Pastries with the Principal” each month to share what happening on campus and to provide updates on academic and athletic achievements.

Killebrew earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from William Carey University in 2003. She also holds a master’s in sports administration (2005) and a doctorate in educational leadership and administration from USM in 2016.

Truth lies in the statement, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Killebrew is a third generation educator, following behind her grandmother and mother, who is currently in her 43rd year of teaching. Killebrew worked as a teacher for five years before becoming an administrator. She has a unique approach to ensuring that students remain in school and reach their goals. Killebrew has been known to visit the homes of students who are at-risk of dropping out and convince them to stick it out until graduation.

“Dr. Robyn Killebrew is an administrator who understands that educators must teach and reach the whole child in order to get the best results for her students, staff and community,” said Foley. “By taking a personal interest in students’ lives and needs, she sets them up to succeed academically, vocationally, and personally, and thereby creates a pathway to the brighter futures they all deserve. She is also known for her extraordinary support and connection to students, staff, community, and other administrators.”

Dr. Killebrew has expressed that she plans to travel with some of the funds. She attributes her recognition to wonderful the staff and students at Pass Christian High School. One way that she has already shown appreciation to her staff is by presenting each staff member with a bouquet of flowers on the Monday following her award.

The selection process for the recognition is confidential, and nominees are eventually reviewed by blue ribbon panels appointed by the state board of education. Those most exceptional are recommended for the Award, with final approval by the Milken Family Foundation, according to their website.