District of Columbia Public Schools: Excellence in Teaching Awards

As 2014 drew to a close, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has released the names of their annual award winners and it has clearly been a great year for Leading Educators’ Teacher Leaders.

DCPS notes the Excellence in Teaching Award as one that, “recognizes the outstanding achievement and dedication of seven DCPS teachers with a $10,000 prize”. Educators from across the district were nominated for the award and a panel of community stakeholders selected the final list of winners. Our Washington, D.C., Leading Educators team was very excited to see that one of their 2013 cohort Fellows, Charisse Robinson, was awarded one of the prestigious awards!

The Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teachers recognizes the success of additional DCPS teachers. “The awards are funded through the generosity of David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group and chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.” 2013 cohort Fellows, Jamila Marston (Elementary Math & Science, Truesdell Education Campus) and Frank Medley (Spanish, Whittier Education Campus), were both recipients of the 2014 Rubenstein Award.

DCPS also announces Principal of the Year and Rubenstein Awards for School Leaders at the end of each calendar year. Chancellor Kaya Henderson surprised Principal Janeece Docal of Powell Elementary School with the Principal of the Year award in late November. Chancellor Henderson said, “When I think about the qualities that make a phenomenal principal, and the qualities that I want in a school leader, both as a parent and as a Chancellor, I think of Janeece Docal. She holds incredibly high expectations for her students, [and] has built a team of people who deliver on those expectations every day”. We couldn’t agree more! Janeece sponsors both Washington, D.C., Leading Educators Fellows as well as DCPS Teacher Leadership Innovation (TLI) Teacher Leaders in her building and is deploying their leadership expertise to drive results across the building. Leading Educators partner schools, Whittier Education Campus, Truesdell Education Campus, and Seaton Elementary School, were also acknowledged for the outstanding leaders driving student achievement through the Rubenstein Awards for School Leaders. Congratulations to Tenia Pritchard (Whittier), Loren Brody (Whittier), Mary Ann Stinson (Truesdell), Cynthia Robinson-Rivers (Seaton), and Kim Jackson (Seaton).

The announcement of Teacher of the Year did not occur until late in December, but it was well worth the wait. DC 2013 cohort member, Charisse Robinson, was named 2014 Teacher of the Year. Charisse has always loved learning and working with children – even as a child herself. Despite spending many years struggling to pass the teacher certification exam, Charisse was not willing to give up on her students and their growth. The classroom was where she was meant to be, so she began working with a colleague after school, prior to her last chance at the exam, to ensure she was able to honor her commitment to her students. Now, 15 years into her teacher career, the Cleveland community is happy that Charisse was able to receive her certification and continue on her path of impactful and holistic educating. Last year, 95% of Charisse’s 3rd graders met or exceeded grade level standards in reading, even though a fourth of her class started the year significantly behind. Her leadership coach, Lori Wilen, says: “Charisse is an absolute pleasure to work with. She is a reflective practitioner and is willing to be open and honest about her own work. She is dedicated to her students and the work of urban education in general. Her passion is contagious and all who enter her presence are fortunate”.

All award winners were honored at the 5th Annual Standing Ovation for DC Teachers at the Kennedy Center on January 12th, 2015.