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Teaching Matters Fourth Annual Cash Award for a Leader Promoting Teacher Effectiveness Goes to First-Year Brooklyn High School Principal

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - July 24, 2014) - Teaching Matters, Inc. today gave a $25,000 cash award to Jodie Cohen, a first year principal at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York. The annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters recognizes a leader who fosters effective teaching in his or her school.

Ms. Cohen's application focused on the collaborative learning model and cross-disciplinary teacher teams introduced at James Madison. She explains, "I believe the joint efforts of our school community made our initiatives a success." 

She is a graduate of the high school she now leads.

Dr. Salvador Fernandez, who won last year's third annual Rohatyn Prize, presented the award to Ms. Cohen. He said Ms. Cohen "aims to continue building structures that will sustain a culture of learning for all." 

The Rohatyn award is the culmination of a months-long winnowing process, with open nominations, an initial selection of ten semi-finalists by a panel of independent judges, a public vote to select five finalists, and then a winner chosen by the judges' panel. This year, those judges included:

Drema Brown, Vice President of School Age Programs, Children's Aid Society;

Ismaris Delacruz, former NYC student at East Bronx Academy for the Future, current NYU student;

Salvador Fernandez, Principal of JHS 52 in Manhattan, 2013 Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize recipient;

Frederick Frelow, Senior Program Officer, Ford Foundation.

The ten semi-finalists and five finalists were acknowledged at the event, with the following descriptions of the finalists' work: 

Ailene Altman Mitchell, Park Slope Education Complex/JHS 88, Brooklyn, NY

A "blended" and "flipped" learning pilot in math and science (integrating in-class and online elements) resulted in improved student achievement and engagement; now the pilot is being expanded across all content and grades.

Jodie Cohen, James Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY

Instructionally focused teacher teams collaborated across disciplines, sparked a model classroom initiative, and created a professional development calendar and dropbox for sharing resources. There are plans to expand professional development activities, teacher release time, and technology use for effective communication.

Deirdre De'Angelis, New Dorp High School, Staten Island, NY

The school has grouped itself into eight Small Learning Communities, each with a specific career area, and there is both intensive professional development in writing for teachers, and an academic focus on student writing based on analysis of data. 

Alicia Perez-Katz, Baruch College Campus High School, Manhattan, NY

The advisory program deepens teacher-student connections not only while at the school, but even after graduation.

Christopher Zagacki, Freire Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

This teacher mentoring program, based on the "Shanghai Method," pairs master teachers with first-year colleagues for one period daily.

The award event also included a speech by New York City Department of Education official Anna Commitante, Senior Executive Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development, who highlighted the need to "institutionalize" good and distributed leadership, and called being a principal "the most difficult but also the most rewarding position."

Lynette Guastaferro, Executive Director of Teaching Matters, said giving the award is especially gratifying in an era when there is increasing recognition of how important great leadership is to student outcomes. "Excellent principals are linchpins for excellent teaching, which is crucial to student success. That is why we consider this award so important, and are thrilled to honor Jodie Cohen, our newest Rohatyn Prize winner."

For more about the prize, see http://www.teachingmatters.org/Rohatyn_Prize.

Teaching Matters is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing teacher effectiveness, one of the most critical factors in student success. Our services transform how educators work together at urban public schools, helping the most effective teachers develop the skills they need to lead their peers and drive school-wide improvement. We also partner with school leadership to create a work environment that equips teachers to succeed in the classroom. From nearly 20 years of working in New York City's public schools, we've developed an understanding of realistic and lasting ways to improve student outcomes, and we're committed to real, measurable results. Visit www.teachingmatters.org to learn more about how we're making a difference for students and teachers at public schools.

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