It was more than likely the first time that a D.C. schools leader described herself as “verklempt” — Yiddish for choked with emotion. That’s the word Chancellor Kaya Henderson used Monday night to characterize her condition at last year’s first “Standing Ovation” awards ceremony for outstanding teachers.
She promised to be more composed this year. But it was hard for anyone at the Kennedy Center to avoid getting just a little choked up at the second annual “Ovation,” honoring the 663 teachers--16 percent of the city’s public school teaching corps--who reached “highly effective”ratings on the IMPACT evaluation system during the 2010-11 academic year. They’ll receive bonuses of anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000, depending on the subject they teach and the school where they work. The 290 who have now done it two years in a row will also be eligible for base salary increases of $10,000 to $20,000.
The bonuses, a provision of the District’s 2010 contract with the Washington Teachers’ Union, are underwritten by a group of private education philanthropies, including the Walton and Broad foundations.
Thirty-three educators — 27 teachers and six principals-- received special awards for excellence and highly effective teaching that come with prizes of $5,000 to $10,000, donated by David Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group.
While issues surrounding IMPACT will continue to be hashed out by the District and the union in courtrooms and conference rooms, the commitment of the teachers honored Monday night transcended any policy debate.
In a series of introductory videos, the audience saw seven educators singled out for special Excellence Awards. They included Tameka Petticolas, who works with autistic children at Davis Elementary in Ward 7. She said she comes to school every day determined “to find their genius.” Jonathan Jou, an ESL teacher at Jefferson Middle School in Ward 6, pledged his bonus money to help his students buy bilingual electronic dictionaries.
Angelique Kwabenah, a reading specialist at the Incarcerated Youth Program at the D.C. Jail, said she tries to help her students to “understand that they are incarcerated for a reason, but that this is not the end of the road, it’s just the beginning.” In a heartbreaking footnote, she said many of her former students have graduated not from school but to other federal prisons.
“They are better than what a lot of people say they are,”she said.
Five principals were also recognized this year. Maria Tukeva of Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1) received the top award for excellence. Sean Davis of Hendley Elementary (Ward 8), Azalia Hunt-Speight of Luke C. Moore High School (Ward 5), Billy Kearney of Hart Middle School (Ward 8), Monica Liange Aguirre of Oyster-Adams Bilingual (Ward 3) and Elizabeth Whisnant of Mann Elementary (Ward 3) received Rubenstein Awards for Highly Effective Leadership.
Anchor Jim Vance hosted the ceremony, devised by DCPS and the city’s philanthropic and corporate sector (CityBridge, Flamboyan, Marriott, Freddie Mac and The Washington Post Company among them) to raise money ($800,000 for the D.C. Public Education Fund) and to bring a greater sense of prestige and professionalism to teaching. It has also morphed into something like the Golden Globes of DCPS, complete with celebrity presenters (singers Chuck Brown and John Legend, actress Alfre Woodard, the Redskins’ Rocky McIntosh), acceptance speeches by the winners and a swanky reception after the show.
There is also a wider acceptance by teachers of the idea of performance bonuses. Under the terms of the union contract, they are required to surrender some traditional job protections in exchange for the money. This year, 70 percent of eligible teachers have indicated that they will accept their bonuses, compared to 60 percent in 2010.
The complete list of Excellence Award Winners:
Kelly Emminger, first grade, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary (Ward 8)
Shira Fishman, Math McKinley Technological High School (also named 2011 DCPS Teacher of the year, Ward 5)
Eduardo Gamarra, humanities, Oyster-Adams-Bilingual (Ward 3)
Jonathan Jou, ESL, Jefferson Middle School (Ward 6)
Angelique Kwabenah, reading, Incarcerated Youth Program
Tameka Petticolas, special education, autism, Davis Elementary (Ward 7)
Doris Jean Hurd Savoy, Spanish, Coolidge High (Ward 4)
Maria Tukeva, principal Columbia Heights Education Campus (Ward 1)
Rubenstein Awards for Highly Effective Teachers:
Joyce L. Adams, pre-k dual language, Bancroft Elementary (Ward 1)
Stephanie Aduso, pre-k special education, autism,Walker-Jones Elementary (Ward 6)
Perea Brown-Blackmon, 3rd and 4th grade, Langdon Education Campus (Ward 5)
Brenda Porter Burns, early childhood, Garrison Elementary (Ward 2)
Darlene M. Ferguson, physical education, Randle Highland Elementary (Ward 7)
Stephanie E. Frank, 1st grade, Cleveland Elementary (Ward 1)
Shelley Renee Hawkins, special education, autism, Roosevelt HS (Ward 4)
Jere Lorenzen-Strait, kindergarten, School Within a School at Peabody (Ward 6)
Arnita D. Meekins, special education, Tubman Elementary (Ward 1)
Margaret T. Meenehan, performing arts, Fillmore Arts Center
Geraldine Meredith, pre-k, Barnard Elementary (Ward 4)
Lora L.Pangilinan, math, Luke C. Moore High School (Ward 5)
Deborah Pearman, math, Cardozo HS (Ward 1)
Keelan Purcell, science, Deal Middle School (Ward 3)
Alyson Roberts, early childhood, CW Harris Elementary (Ward 7)
Juanita M. Stokes, pre-school, Payne Elementary (Ward 6)
Denise M. Thiel, early childhood, Leckie Elementary (Ward 8)
Amy Trenkle, social studies, Stuart-Hobson Middle School (Ward 6)
Kristen N. Williams, language arts, 5th Grade, Key Elementary (Ward 3)
Donna Williamson, 4th and 5th Grade, King Elementary (Ward 8)