Petal High School teacher receives national recognition
Photo Courtesy of The Milken Family Foundation

A teacher at Petal High School has received a national award. 

At a surprise ceremony, Kathryn Daniels was recognized as a 2019-20 recipient of a Milken Educator Award, and with the national recognition comes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Daniels, an AP history teacher, is one of just 40 recipients of the award and the only one in Mississippi. 

The organization that distributes the award commended Daniels for her ability to “bring history alive for her students not through rote memorization exercises but by bolstering their reading and writing skills. They went on to say that “the former English teacher has demonstrated how enhanced communication skills can aid her Petal High School (PHS) students’ critical thinking, argumentative tools and ability to understand opposing viewpoints.”

Mississippi State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright was in attendance for the ceremony and said that Daniels sets an example for all to follow. 

“We are incredibly proud of Kathryn Daniels and the example she sets for her colleagues across Mississippi,” said Superintendent Wright. “She sets high expectations for her students and provides them with the support and help to meet, and exceed, those expectations. I join her students, school and community in congratulating Mrs. Daniels for earning national recognition for her achievements as an educator.”

Daniels’ was praised by the organization for her leadership abilities and her caring attitude. 

The co-leader of the PHS history department, Daniels collaborates with the school’s English teachers to align reading and writing across the curriculum. She enlivens her classes with maps and political cartoons and invites community leaders as guests, including Petal’s mayor.

Daniels raises student expectations beyond the typical high school classroom. Under her leadership, AP history students have excelled on both AP and state exams. She also assists students beyond high school, tutoring them for college exams like the ACT. Through Distinguished Young Women, a national scholarship program, she’s helped to promote and reward scholarship, leadership and talent.

She’s also actively sought resources for struggling students, including essay contests, scholarships and even by providing rides to school. On a broader scale, Daniels has improved writing achievement in the state’s rural and underperforming schools by helping secure grants from the South Mississippi Writing Project. 

Daniels conveys the same philosophy whether inspiring high performing or challenged students:  that hard work and dedication are important qualities for lifelong success.

A PHS graduate and former valedictorian, Daniels hails from a family of educators. She earned a bachelor’s in history in 2011 and a master’s in education in 2013 from Mississippi College.  Daniels is a member of the Mississippi Teacher Council and has presented at state boot camps and guest lectured at the University of Southern Mississippi.