DIGHTON — A Dighton-Rehoboth educator has been awarded $25,000 in a surprise ceremony to celebrate her contributions to increasing literacy among the district's students.

Dighton Elementary Title I reading interventionist Leigh Beson was given a Milken Educator award during an assembly on Wednesday morning.

The former first grade teacher at the school is the only Milken award recipient from Massachusetts this year, and is the first from the Dighton-Rehoboth school district.

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Leigh Beson walks to receive the award
Paul Bliese/Milken Family Foundation


Milken Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Massachusetts' Deputy Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Dr. Regina Robinson presented Beson with the award in a school assembly.

Beson will be able to use the $25,000 prize however she likes, according to a release from the Milken Educator Awards.

This year, 35 elementary school educators across the country were granted Milken awards.

Beson uses data to optimize student learning and designs activities tailored to each student's needs.


She earned a bachelor’s in English from Fordham University in 2009 and a master’s in elementary education from Northeastern University in 2012.

Paul Bliese/Milken Family Foundation
Paul Bliese/Milken Family Foundation

Along with the cash prize, the award also allows Beson to join a national educator network of more than 2,900 colleagues and leaders in the field.

This year's honorees will also attend a Milken Educator Awards Forum in Los Angeles later this month.

Every year, the awards remain a secret until the ceremony.

"Reading helps build the foundation for success in school and life. Leigh Beson has a gift for using data to identify the unique needs and abilities of every student, creating a nurturing environment for them to flourish," Foley said.

"Ms. Beson’s skills of creating joy, learning and growth for all students have never been so important," said Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley.

"I’m glad to see her recognized today, and I hope this award will help inspire others to become educators."

The Milken Awards have handed out more than $140 million in funding — including over $73 million in individual awards — since 1987.


There is no formal nomination or application process for the awards, according to the release.

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