November 02, 2010
The Stars Shine Brightly for DCPS Teachers
Seven highly effective DC teachers win awards, more than 660 teachers honored at Standing Ovation event at Kennedy Center
On November 1, 2010, the city of Washington came together at the Kennedy Center to salute the men and women of DC Public Schools who earned the honor of being rated Highly Effective.
Charles Gray, Jacquelyn Gray, Chrystal Johnson, Patricial West [Photo by James R. Brantley]
Dr. Jill Biden with Sarai Reed and Heber Diaz, student members of the Chancellor's High School Cabinet [Photo by James R. Brantley]
Milan Flanagan, Excellence in Teaching Awardee Deborah Flanagan, Gregory Flanagan,NBC's Jane Pauley [Photo by James R. Brantley]
High School Alumni Choir (45 graduates of DC Schools) conducted by Joyce Garrett, longtime teacher and choir director of Eastern High School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
Grant Lingerfeld, Ashley Muhrin, Danielle Littauer, Bryan Riley [Photo by James R. Brantley]
George Stevens, Jr., Chairman Vincent Gray, Kennedy Center Board Chair and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Deborah Flanagan, Barnard Elementary School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Iver Ricks, Burrville Elementary School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Maria Samenga, Harriet Tubman Elementary School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Roaenetta Mayes Browne, Sharpe Health School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Sylvia Ewing, Kelly Miller Middle School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Charles Feeser, Benjamin Banneker High School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
“Excellence in Teaching” award winner Angela Benjamin, Woodrow Wilson High School [Photo by James R. Brantley]
On any given night it would be no surprise to see luminaries such as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, former Washington Redskins star Darrell Green, and the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. But on Monday, Nov. 1, they all gathered together in one place for one reason: to celebrate DCPS teachers.
A “Standing Ovation for DC Teachers” was hosted by the DC Public Education Fund, a nonprofit that works closely with DC Public Schools to engage the philanthropic community in the school system’s reform work.
But the event was a gift from the entire city: The business, arts and philanthropic communities joined together and contributed generously to celebrate the men and women of DC Public Schools who earned the honor of being rated highly effective on teacher evaluations.
It was an evening of celebrity, as DCPS teachers were honored by:
- The second lady of the United States, Jill Biden;
- U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan;
- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman;
- Former Washington Redskins star Darrell Green;
- “Meet the Press” host David Gregory;
- Foo Fighters singer Dave Grohl;
- Grammy Award winner Chrisette Michele; and
- Chairman of the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees David Rubenstein;
“It was so inspiring to have the presence of all those people,” said Asha Mathur, a teacher at Murch Elementary School, one of the 662 honored at Standing Ovation. “It was remarkable.”
Seven “Excellence in Teaching” awards were given to the following outstanding DCPS teachers, whose specialties ranged from early childhood Montessori to special education and physics:
- Angela Benjamin, physics, Wilson Senior High School;
- Roaenetta Mayes Browne, grades 6-8, Sharpe Health School;
- Sylvia Ewing, art, Kelly Miller Middle School;
- Charles Feeser, English, Banneker Senior High School;
- Deborah Flanagan, special education, Barnard Elementary School;
- Iver Ricks, early-childhood Montessori, Burrville Elementary School;
- Maria Samenga, fourth grade, Tubman Elementary School.
View videos from the teachers who won the "Excellence in Teaching" awards given out that night. »
“I was so inspired by the Wilson physics teacher [Angela Benjamin]. I taught some of the same kids she thanked in her speech,” said Nancy Martell-Stevenson, a teacher at Janney Elementary.
DCPS Interim Chancellor Kaya Henderson and former Chancellor Michelle Rhee were joined by Mayor Adrian Fenty and presumptive Mayor-elect Vincent Gray. All saluted DC’s teachers as Gray assured the audience of educators, “There will be no deviation from education reform in DC Public Schools,” and Henderson promised this was only the first of many ways DCPS will honor highly-effective teachers in the future.
The Alumni Choir of Eastern High School performed a rousing rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly,” which brought the audience to its feet. Grohl performed the hit song “My Hero” for the crowd of teachers, after telling stories of growing up with his mother, who served as a teacher, and swearing he can “spot teachers a mile away.”
“It was cool that a Foo Fighter was here,” said Mandy Wollenzien, a teacher at Payne Elementary. “I loved the music!”
The evening ended on a high note when Chrisette Michele sang her newest single, “I’m a Star,” after telling the audience that both of her parents were teachers and adding that teachers are some of the “most beautiful people in the world.”