Montgomery principal Bryan Cutter wins $25,000 ‘Oscar’ of teaching

By Trisha Powell Crain

Principal Bryan Cutter

Montgomery’s Principal Bryan Cutter is the newest Alabama educator to win the Milken Educator Award, called the “Oscar of teaching.”

At a schoolwide assembly Wednesday morning that Cutter helped organize, officials surprised him by making him the guest of honor and presenting him with a $25,000 check. The announcement is kept a closely guarded secret, adding to the excitement.

“Successful students thrive with successful educators, and Dr. Bryan Cutter epitomizes effective and creative leadership,” said Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards. “As a former student in Montgomery Public Schools himself, Bryan acutely understands the unique challenges within the community. His knowledge and experiences guide him to make positive ripples in the lives of his students.”

Cutter, in his third year as principal of Dalraida Elementary School, was recognized for his innovative leadership style and implementation of technology throughout the school, where he helped establish the first elementary STEM lab in Montgomery public schools and across the region. Cutter earned a Ph.D. in educational leadership, policy and law in 2019 from Alabama State University.

Cutter joins a list of 39 educators awarded the Milken since 1998, when Alabama joined the program. To see a full list of winners, click here.

Educators cannot apply for the award and do not even know they are being considered. The organization’s website states the award is given early to mid-career to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other education professionals. The Milken Educator Awards were created by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987 and recognize teaching excellence publicly to show communities the importance of the teaching profession. Given only to around 40 teachers every year, the Milken award is well known for its element of surprise and for the $25,000 check.

“Today’s announcement is a great opportunity to celebrate the field of education overall,” said Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey. “Dr. Cutter and his team at Dalraida Elementary School are an excellent example of the good work occurring in schools and classrooms across Alabama every day. The level of commitment and excellence exhibited here is invaluable, but it is not unique. Educators and administrators statewide are going the extra mile to create safe environments that are conducive to learning,” Mackey said. “Milken’s recognition of Dr. Cutter is a testament to his leadership as a principal and his ability to help increase academic achievement for the students he serves.”