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Klingenstein and Silverberg Awards Recognize Excellence in Teaching and School Leadership

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    Alexis Margolin

At the EL National Conference, two awards were presented in recognition of excellence within the EL network: the Klingenstein Teaching Award, given to Beth Mowry, Earth Science and Advanced Environmental Science Teacher at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies (BCS) in Brooklyn, NY; and the Silverberg Leadership Award, given to Thabiti Brown, Principal of Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, MA.

The Klingenstein Teaching Award, created by EL’s Founding Board Chair Lee Klingenstein, recognizes one inspiring teacher who is judged by his or her peers to have most successfully transmitted to students the essence of the EL culture, building exemplary character, driving outstanding academic achievement, and instilling an ethic of “citizen scholarship.” The Award comes with a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to present a Master Class at next year’s National Conference.

Upon receiving the award, Beth said: “For me, teaching is a spiritual endeavor. It’s a connection to something much larger than myself. I think this is the case, because of what Expeditionary Learning is all about: Learning is active; learning is challenging; learning is meaningful; learning is public; learning is collaborative. Teaching, particularly at an EL school, is a calling, not a career…. We are crew, not passengers – students and teachers collaboratively engaged in work that changes lives and communities. We are getting kids to explore and become part of the larger world.”

The finalists for the 2014 Award were: Molly Brady of Polaris Charter Academy in Chicago, IL; Sydney Chaffee of Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester, MA; and Kavitha Kasargod of Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to Beth Mowry and all the finalists!

The Silverberg Leadership Award, created by EL Board Member and Treasurer Irwin Silverberg, is given to an exemplary school leader who has lifted student achievement through deep implementation of EL practices. The award celebrates a school leader who has successfully unleashed leadership in teachers, staff, and students through an EL culture which seeks to lead students to a superior education, enhanced character development and a sense of societal responsibility, all designed to help each student reach his or her full potential. The Award comes with a $5,000 cash prize and an invitation to present a Master Class at next year’s National Conference.

In receiving his award, Thabiti Brown discussed the importance of social justice and civic leadership and read a letter by one of his students who had planned with other students to peacefully protest injustice on a school day. “Leading is sometimes standing alone when you know what is right,” the student wrote. View Thabiti's full speech here. Thabiti closed his comments with a simple and moving offer of gratitude: “To our students, thank you for teaching me, always.”

The other nominees for the inaugural Silverberg Leadership Award were: Sara Dolloff of Tapestry Charter High School in Buffalo, NY; Leslie Draper of Inspire Academy in Muncie, IN; Patrick Finley and Damon McCord of Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in Forest Hills, NY; Marcia Fulton of The Odyssey School in Denver, CO; Bill Haithcock of Harborside Academy in Kenosha, WI; Glenn Lustig of Vallejo Charter School in Vallejo, CA; Stephen R. Mahoney, Ed.D., of The Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, MA; Myra Molnar of Graham Expeditionary Middle School in Columbus, OH; Derek Pierce of Casco Bay High School for Expeditionary Learning in Portland, ME; Sheelarani Webster of World of Inquiry #58 in Rochester, NY; Erin Wheeler of Clairemont Elementary School in Decatur, GA; and Jessica Wodatch of Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Congratulations!

A call for nominations for the 2015 Awards will be released in early spring.