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Group Names Winners of $25,000 Award for Teachers in Low-Income Schools

TNTP, a nonprofit teacher-recruitment and policy organization, has announced the four winners of its 3rd annual Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice. The $25,000 award is designed to recognize outstanding public school teachers working with low-income students. This year's winners are:

  • Kelly Zunkiewicz, a precalculus and AP calculus teacher at Earl J. Lennard High School in Ruskin, Fla.
  • Laura Strait, 4th-5th grade elementary teacher at Aspire ERES Academy in Oakland, Calif.
  • Michael Towne, a physics and engineering teacher at Citrus Hill High School in Perris, Calif., and
  • Steven Sanders, a band teacher at UIC College Prep in Chicago.

More than 820 teachers applied for the award this year, according to TNTP. About 100 applicants were asked to submit teaching videos, and 21 were then selected as semi-finalists by TNTP staff and underwent classroom observations. Finally, a panel of judges interviewed 10 finalists. Qualities emphasized in the selection process included: leadership abilities, a deep understanding of effective instructional practice, and a commitment to advancing the teaching profession.

In addition to receiving $25,000, which they can use as they see fit, the winners will attend a six-week summer residency focusing on classroom practice, issues in education, and educator support. During the residence the teachers are encouraged "to reflect critically on their work in the classroom, explore the larger issues that shape their profession, and contribute to TNTP's efforts to help schools and teachers understand and support excellent instruction for all students," according to the organization's website. They will also write essays for publication about their classroom experiences and effective teaching. Fishman Prize finalists receive $1,000.

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