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Jon Exall of The Odyssey School of Denver Receives 2015 Klingenstein Teacher Award

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    April Hattori

EL Education has announced the recipient of the 2015 Klingenstein Teacher Award – Jon Exall, a 6th grade teacher at The Odyssey School of Denver.

The award, created by EL Education’s Founding Board Chair Lee Klingenstein, is given to an exemplary EL Education teacher who is judged by his or her peers to have most successfully transmitted to students the essence of EL Education culture: building exemplary character, driving outstanding academic achievement, and instilling an ethic of “citizen scholarship.” Mr. Klingenstein honored Mr. Exall with the award at EL Education’s National Conference in San Diego.

Mr. Klingenstein noted that the award represents the exceptional work of all EL Education teachers. "For all the teachers in the room, this award is about you. This is your day,” he said. “In the war on ignorance and poverty, you are the boots on the ground.”

In accepting the award, Mr. Exall said: “the unknown is what entices us, the chance to affect change not just for the good of the individual but also for the good of society and the good of the planet. See, time has shown me that education is perhaps the purest form of activism and to teach is to empower,” he said.

In the nomination letter for Jon, Odyssey teacher Ali Morgan remarked: “We each carry a snapshot of Jon in our mind as we work through our day’s demands: a snapshot of Jon conferring with a student during recess, an image of Jon and his students wading into frigid waters to take water samples, a vision of Jon at his desk long after the last class, digging into detailed feedback for each student. We carry these snapshots as reminders of why our hard work is good work. We find inspiration in Jon’s model because he holds the student at the center of his work with vigilance and with joy.”

Wyatt Cooper, a former student in Jon’s crew, or class, described how Jon “instilled in students a desire to learn, take responsibility for their own education and achieve good academic results,” adding that “Jon is an EL rockstar. Whether it is pushing my learning in class, or making our crews better citizens, Jon would win a gold medal.”

Nominees for the Klingenstein Teacher Award:
Instill in students a desire to learn, a responsibility for their own education, together with good academic results;

  • Inspire students' participation in good citizenship in its broader sense, in the classroom and throughout the school community; and
  • Model the value of "we are crew, not passengers" in their classroom and throughout the school - a founding principle of EL Education.
  • As the Klingenstein Teacher Award recipient, Mr. Exall will receive a $5,000 grant and will the opportunity to present a workshop at the EL Education National Conference in 2016.

The finalists for the 2015 Klingenstein Teacher Award were:

Trent Barnhart
10th Grade Math Teacher
Harborside Academy, Kenosha, WI

Jon Exall
6th Grade Teacher
The Odyssey School of Denver, Denver, CO

Jenna Gampel-Tzadok
Master Teacher/Teacher Induction Coach
Conservatory Lab Charter School
Boston, MA

Britt Villaflor
5th Grade Teacher
Capital City Public Charter School
Washington, D.C.

Diane Williams
Junior High Social Studies Teacher
Anser Charter School
Garden City, ID