By Jonathan Bertsch, Director of Advocacy, KIPP New Orleans
Erica Mariola, a kindergarten teacher at KIPP East Community Primary in New Orleans, won the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice today. She’s one of only four extraordinary teachers chosen from across the country to receive this award.
The Fishman Prize recognizes the nation’s most effective teachers working in high-poverty public schools. Erica will receive $25,000 for her great work, and participate in a summer residency with The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a nonprofit organization that works to ensure low-income minority students get equal access to effective teachers.
Erica got the news in her kindergarten classroom this morning, with friends, family, and coworkers on hand to celebrate. Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard, and Orleans Parish School District Superintendent Henderson Lewis, helped make the announcement to a very surprised Erica!
KIPP New Orleans Schools is so proud to have an educator like Erica on our team. This year her students entered kindergarten performing, on average, across reading and math, in the 24th percentile. Students are now leaving kindergarten performing on average in the 56th percentile—with a third of her class performing at or above the 75th percentile! This growth will have a dramatic effect on the educational journey that lies ahead for her students.
More than 5,000 teachers were nominated for the 2015 Fishman Prize this year. Erica made it to the final round along with just 10 other teachers, who were interviewed by an expert panel of judges. During her summer residency, Erica will reflect on her work in the classroom and author a paper on their teaching strategies which will be shared with educators across the country.
Erica isn’t the first New Orleans KIPPster to win the coveted prize. In 2012, KIPP Central City Academy’s Whitney Henderson and Jamie Irish both won the award. Just last year, another KIPP Central City teacher, Jonathan Johnson, was honored as a Fishman Prize finalist. Congratulations to all!