Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) awarded scholarships and other honors to six public schools that dramatically improved performance despite difficult odds, at the GSE’s 8th annual National School Change Awards ceremony, on July 16 at the Lincoln Center campus.
Lew Smith, Ph.D., director of the awards, also announced that that the Panasonic Corporation will begin sponsoring and funding the GSE’s National School Change Awards, beginning in July 2007. The awards will now be known as the Panasonic National School Change Awards, and will be managed jointly by Fordham and the Panasonic Foundation. The 2008 Panasonic National School Change Award will be made possible by a $75,000 grant from Panasonic North America.
“You have taken teaching and learning to a new level in your communities, with good teaching and learning brought to scale—just what this country needs,” said Ray Simon, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, at the awards ceremony. “It is unfortunate that, for too many children, it is still luck of the draw whether or not they get a good teacher.”
The ceremony recognized the staff of exemplary schools in four states, including the Anna F. Booth Elementary School, in Irvington Ala., where more than 70 per cent of the Booth school’s students were left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. Winning schools received a $5,000 grant, subsidized participation at the National Principals Leadership Institute, and were invited to participate in a national research project on school change. The 2007 winners were chosen from a national pool of 127 schools—the largest application pool in the award’s eight-year history.
As Smith presented each school principal with an award, the audience of fellow educators offered a standing ovation.
“These schools brought themselves up from schools that were failing students, to exemplary schools,” Smith said. “Nobody did it for them, they did it themselves.”
Since the program’s inception, 601 schools from 44 states have been nominated. Each year, a distinguished panel of judges selects six award winners.
In addition to the Booth school, this year’s winners include: PS. 196, Brooklyn, N.Y.; World of Inquiry School No. 58, Rochester. N.Y.; Dreamkeepers Academy, Norfolk, Va.; Chalkley Elementary, Chesterfield, Va. and Signal Hill Elementary, Signal Hill, Calif.