Winners of the Rubenstein Awards for Highly Effective Teaching 2012 - Spring 2011 

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The Rubenstein Awards for Highly Effective Teaching recognize the success of twenty DCPS teachers with a $5,000 award. Award winners were nominated by DCPS educators, students, parents, and community members, and then selected by a DCPS central office panel.

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. Eligible teachers must earn a rating of Highly Effective under IMPACT.

The Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching winners are recognized at the annual Standing Ovation for DC Teachers, hosted by DC Public Education Fund and held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Learn more  about past Rubenstein Award winners.

Nominate a teacher or principal for a 2012 teaching or leadership award.

 Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching Winners

Joyce Adams, Pre-Kindergarten, Bancroft Elementary School

A proud product of the DC Public schools, Ms. Joyce Adams has taught at Bancroft Elementary School for the past five years.  Ms. Adams is herself a Bancroft graduate, and also attended Alice Deal Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School. 

Before her current position at Bancroft, Ms. Adams taught for one year at Adams Elementary School and eleven years at Payne Elementary School. She has assumed various leadership roles over the course of her tenure, such as team leader, ASFA teacher, and mentor to new teachers in DCPS.

Ms. Adams began her DCPS career at the age of 18, right after the completion of her own DCPS education. She first entered the profession as a paraprofessional at Hearst Elementary School, where she cites the outstanding leadership of Ms. Brenda Burns, another Rubenstein winner. Says Ms. Adams: "I am forever grateful to her and all my former DCPS teachers who set a rigorous standard of excellence by which my teaching is modeled after today."


Stephanie Aduso, Pre-Kindergarten Special Education –Autism, Walker-Jones Education Campus

Stephanie Aduso has been a teacher for eight years, three of them with the DC Public Schools. 

This is Ms. Aduso's second year as an early childhood autism inclusion teacher at Walker-Jones Education Campus. Prior to this role, she spent one year teaching 2nd and 3rd grade special education at Wheatley Education Campus.

Ms. Aduso holds a Master’s degree in early childhood special education and is a former recipient of a grant from the US Department of Education for studies specializing in the education of children from birth to five years.




Perea Brown-Blackmon, 3rd and 4th grade, Langdon Education Campus

Mrs. Perea Brown-Blackmon has taught at Langdon Education Campus for the past 17 years. 

Over the course of her tenure, Mrs. Brown-Blackmon has served at various times as the cheerleading coach, step team advisor, Langdon mass choir director, lead teacher, and grade level chairperson.

Mrs. Brown-Blackmon's DCPS ties extend beyond the classroom as well, as demonstrated by her recent marriage to her husband Jonathan, a teacher at Coolidge High School. Mrs. Brown-Blackmon is also the proud parent of nine children who are all either currently attending, or have attended, a DC Public School. 

Four of her children are currently students at Langdon, one is a senior at Coolidge, one is a graduate of Luke C. Moore High School, and the oldest is a graduate of Wilson High School.




Brenda Porter Burns, Pre-Kindergarten, Garrison Elementary School

Brenda Burns taught pre-kindergarten for 41 years before retiring from Garrison Elementary School in June. During her 36 years as a teacher in DCPS, Ms. Burns also served the communities of Ludlow-Taylor, Neval Thomas, and Hearst Elementary Schools. 

Ms. Burns' DCPS tenure has been marked with various leadership distinctions. She has worked as a supervising teacher for student teachers from Howard, UDC, and Marymount Universities. 

She has also served on both national and local school committees - including 15 years on various Local School Restructuring Teams in DCPS. While at Hearst Elementary School, she was a nominee for the Washington Post's Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year Award.

Ms. Burns holds a M.Ed. degree in early childhood education from the University of Maryland.


Darlene M. Ferguson, Health and Physical Education, Randle Highlands Elementary School

Mrs. Darlene Ferguson is entering her fourth year as the health and physical education teacher at Randle Highlands Elementary School.A teacher for 11 years, Mrs. Ferguson has also taught at Patricia Roberts Harris Educational Center during her time in DCPS. 

A proud alumna of Woodrow Wilson High School, she holds an advanced degree in health, physical education and recreation and will be graduating from Trinity University in December 2012 with a Master’s of Science in educational leadership.

In May of 2009, Mrs. Ferguson was invited to bring 30 students to participate in First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative on the south lawn of the White House.




Stephanie E. Frank, 1st Grade, Cleveland Elementary School

Ms. Stephanie Frank has taught at Cleveland Elementary School for 14 of her 15 years in DCPS. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, she holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Howard University and a graduate degree from Trinity University.

Ms. Frank credits her success to the great motivators and teachers she has met in her life, including one exceptional instructor at Howard University, Dr. Alleyne, who encouraged her to always explore and learn as a teacher. 

Ms. Frank strives to inspire her own students in the same way, encouraging them to expand their love of school and reading every day. Ms. Frank serves on the Local School Restructuring Team at Cleveland Elementary School.




Shelley Renee Hawkins, Special Education-Autism, Roosevelt Senior High School

Dr. Shelley R. Hawkins is a special education autism teacher at Roosevelt Senior High School. She is currently entering her 12th year at Roosevelt. 

Prior to teaching in DCPS, she was a school to community trainer, teacher counselor, and a special education teacher with Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs in Virginia.

Twice rated as a Highly Effective educator under the IMPACT system, Dr. Hawkins looks forward to teaching her students, and benefits from the interaction that she shares on a daily basis with them. 

In school year 2010-2011, she served as a cooperative teacher for DC Teaching Fellows and as a mentor teacher with DCPS. These opportunities allowed her to diligently provide professional, educational guidance and instruction to new teachers. Currently, she serves as a member of the Local School Advisory Team and a member of the Parent Teachers Students Association. 

Dr. Hawkins says that she “truly believes that God has given her this calling, to educate students with special needs by passing on information to them in diverse ways that will help to make them to be as self-sufficient in society as they possibly can."



Jere Lorenzen-Strait, Kindergarten Teacher, School-Within-School at Peabody

Jere Lorenzen-Strait has been named the 2011 DCPS New Teacher of the Year. Mr. Lorenzen-Strait, or "Mr. Jere" teaches pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at School-Within-School at Peabody (SWS), a teacher-directed, Reggio Emilia-inspired learning environment.

Mr. Jere graduated summa cum laude from the Catholic University of America and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  Before he began his teaching career he was Team Member of the Year at Whole Foods Market in Alexandria, Virginia, and Employee of the Year at Embassy Suites Hotel in Brea, California. 

Mr. Jere serves as his school's PTA representative, and is a member of the DC Reggio Emilia Study Group.  He recently attended the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance Summer Conference in Monterey, California, and will attend a North American Study Group in Reggio Emilia, Italy this October.

Mr. Jere resides in Brookland with his husband Andrew and their two miniature dachshunds, Kelsey and Willa.



Arnita D. Meekins, Special Education, Tubman Elementary School

Mrs. Arnita Meekins teaches five through seven-year-old students in the Special Education Transitional Program at Harriet Tubman Elementary School.  

Twice rated as a Highly Effective educator under the IMPACT system, she has devoted her entire 25-year teaching career to DC Public Schools and is herself a graduate of McKinley Technology High School.

As the grade-level chairperson for both special education and kindergarten, a coach for the DC Teaching Fellows program, and a member of the Tubman resident mentor team, Mrs. Meekins is always seeking opportunities to share her expertise and support her colleagues.  

Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Meekins has served as coordinator for Aftercare for All program, served as a Special Olympics coach, and was a Best Friends mentor for ten years.  She was a member of the School Chapter Advisory Committee and was a Phonics Hook Up grant recipient.




Margaret Meenehan, Performing Arts, Fillmore Arts Center

Ms. Margaret "Maggie" Meenehan has been teaching at Fillmore Arts Center, a DCPS arts education center servicing over 3,000 students, for over 25 years. 

She is a certified arts specialist K-12, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Movement Education from George Washington University, and is currently working towards her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction at American University.

Over the course of her career, Ms. Meenehan has received many accolades for her success both in and out of the classroom. She has written and received two grants in education from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities which have directly benefited her classes, and has also directed many large-scale student theatre productions for the DC Department of Recreation. 

Ms. Meenehan has presented workshops and performances in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and locally at several universities and performance venues. In addition, she was twice a recipient of Fulbright scholarships, once to study the arts and cultures of Canada and Mexico and a second time to travel and study in Japan. 

She is currently serving as a lead teacher at Fillmore, where she very much enjoys working with the talented staff and students.



Geraldine Meredith, Pre-Kindergarten, Barnard ES

Mrs. Geraldine Boddie Meredith, a DCPS graduate, has been an early childhood educator at Barnard Elementary school for the past three years. Prior to her experience at Barnard, she taught for ten years at Bunker Hill Elementary School, where she also served as the reading standards specialist. 

Mrs. Meredith spent eight years working in the private sector as a teacher leader and consultant for the In2Books Literacy Program, supporting literacy within the District’s elementary schools. She continues to work as a teacher consultant with the National Writing Project and the District of Columbia Writing Project of Howard University.

Mrs. Meredith has been honored numerous times over the course of her career for her support of new teachers and her presentations at local, regional and national conferences. While at Bunker Hill, she received the Teacher to Teacher Exemplary Award (1995) and the Ward Five 1999 Outstanding Teacher Award. 

At Barnard, Mrs. Meredith serves on the Principal’s Leadership Team, and is the co-facilitator of the school’s environmental program.

Mrs. Meredith is completing a second Master’s at George Washington University in early childhood special education. She has been recognized for her work with the homeless community within the metropolitan area and for dramatic presentations of courage and hope through storytelling. 

She credits her mentor, Mrs. Louise Houston, with her success and says, “She taught me to take children where they are, embrace the families, and set goals where they must stretch to reach them. I take pride in helping to nurture our children because they are our treasures."  


Lora L. Pangilinan, Math, Luke C. Moore High School

 Mrs. Lora Pangilinan, or “Mrs. P.,” has taught geometry and probability and statistics at Luke C. Moore High School for the past six years. She currently serves the school as a math resource intervention specialist. Prior to arriving at DCPS, Mrs. Pangilinan taught for two years in Prince George’s county and seven years in the Philippines. 

Mrs. P. has received many accolades over the course of her career, including an Outstanding Teacher Award presented by the Ward 5 Council on Education (2008), a Certificate of Excellence in Teaching Award (2009) and a Commitment to Excellence Award from Luke C. Moore (2011).

Mrs. Pangilinan is married to Aris Pangilinan (known as “Mr. P.”), a math teacher and STEM Coordinator at H.D. Woodson High School. They have a three-year-old son, Arlo John.



Deborah Snipes Pearman, Math, Cardozo High School

Ms. Deborah Snipes Pearman teaches Advanced Placement calculus, probability and statistics, and pre-calculus, at Cardozo Senior High School.  She has been teaching in DCPS since 1987, after 14 years in the private school system.

As a teacher at Cardozo, Ms. Pearman serves as the chairperson of the mathematics department, and is also the school’s building representative.  She is a proud product of DCPS, having graduated from Calvin Coolidge Senior School.



Keelan Purcell, Science, Alice Deal Middle School

Ms. Keelan Purcell teaches 8th grade science at Alice Deal Middle School.  This is her sixth year of teaching and her third in DCPS. 

Before coming to Alice Deal, Ms. Purcell taught for two years at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School.

Prior to serving the public schools of Washington, DC, Ms. Purcell spent three years at a public middle school in New York City, where she entered the teaching profession as a Teach For America corps member. 

Ms. Purcell has held various leadership roles and participated in district-wide committees and focus groups during the course of her teaching career in both New York and in Washington, DC. She served on the DCPS Chancellor’s Teachers’ Cabinet for the 2010-11 school year.



Alyson Roberts, Early Childhood, C.W. Harris Elementary School

 Ms. Alyson Roberts is the reading intervention teacher at C.W. Harris Elementary School, where she has worked for three years.  Before her current position, Ms. Roberts taught kindergarten at the school.

Prior to her three years at C.W. Harris, Ms. Roberts taught 5th grade; English as a Second Language to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders; and reading to preschool through 5th graders. 

Ms. Roberts is teacher lead and a member of the leadership team at C.W. Harris.  She spent this summer working as a Fellow Advisor for the DC Teaching Fellows Program, where she led daily professional development sessions and mentored 31 teachers entering the teaching profession for the first time this fall.



Juanita Stokes, Preschool, Payne Elementary School

Juanita Stokes has spent her entire 25-year career as a preschool teacher with the DC Public Schools. She began teaching at Bryan Elementary School, and has served the Payne Elementary School community for the past twenty years.

Ms. Stokes has taken on various leadership roles over the course of her tenure, from Local School Restructuring Team committee member, to grade-level chairperson and chair of the Discipline Committee. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a Master’s degree in arts and teaching early childhood from Grand Canyon University.

Ms. Stokes credits the influence of her mother, an educator, with starting her on the path to becoming  a teacher. She says, “I was determined to follow in my mother’s footsteps, to have a positive influence on students and be a teacher that students will remember for years to come.”



Denise Thiel, Early Childhood, Leckie Elementary School

Denise Thiel teaches pre-kindergarten at Leckie Elementary School. She has served the Leckie community for 13 years.

Ms. Thiel currently serves as early childhood chairperson and is a member of the school chapter advisory committee. She is also a certified AFT trainer in Foundations of Effective Teaching: Early Childhood.




Amy Trenkle, Social Studies, Stuart-Hobson Middle School

Ms. Amy Trenkle is an 8th grade U.S. history teacher at Stuart-Hobson Middle School, where she has been teaching since 1999. 

A National Board Certified Teacher in early adolescence social studies/history, Ms. Trenkle holds a Master’s in international education from George Washington University. She currently serves as an adjunct professor of education at American University.

Ms. Trenkle believes in experiential learning and using the museums in her city and across the country to help her students make concrete connections to their history curriculum. She has served on several teacher advisory boards to local museums, and is an active participant in the National Council for the Social Studies and the DC Geographic Alliance, as well as various national teacher training and curriculum-writing projects. 

Ms. Trenkle has also helped to develop Common Core State Standards text modules, standards guides and pacing charts for social studies within DC Public Schools. 

In 2011, Ms. Trenkle was named both the Mount Vernon History Teacher of the Year and the Patricia Behring DC National History Day Teacher of the Year. She is a past recipient of the Gilder-Lehrman Institute’s DC History Teacher of the Year Award (2005). 

During the summer, Ms. Trenkle enjoys spending time in national parks with her husband and their dog, Soba.



Kristen Williams – 5th Grade Language Arts – Key Elementary School

Kristen Williams teaches 5thgrade Language Arts at Key Elementary School.  Ms. Williams joined DC Public Schools in 2008 after teaching at the P.K. Yonge Development Research School – a public school district affiliated with the University of Florida that works to develop and share innovative instructional programs with other school systems across the state. 

At Key Elementary School, Ms. Williams has taken on several leadership roles that show her clear commitment to her students, their families, and her colleagues. In addition to serving as a member of the Local School Advisory Team, Ms. Williams is the chairperson of the World Family Committee and a member of the Student Support Team and Professional Development Committee.


Learn more  about the 2010 Excellence in Teaching recipients and watch the videos that were created to honor these exceptional educators at the 2010 Standing Ovation.

Inside DCPS Highlights.


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