Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the sixth annual event recognized outstanding teachers from 2019 to 2022. (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

By Special to the AFRO

On May 4, District education leaders, including State Superintendent of Education Dr. Christina Grant and DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee, honored DC teachers at the Sixth Annual DC Educator Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). The theme of this year’s event was The Gold Standard of Excellence and coincides with National Teacher Appreciation Week.

“We are proud to have the best of the best teaching and leading in public schools across all eight wards,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

DC Teacher of the Year Dominique Foster was one of the more than two dozen teachers honored at this year’s ceremony.  Foster, a pre-kindergarten instructor at Friendship Public Charter School was stunned last Fall when the honor was announced in front of her children. 

During the height of the pandemic Foster employed creative strategies to keep her young children engaged including bringing in guest speakers such as DC Councilman Vincent Gray and poet Nikki Giovanni so her young charges could stay connected to their community.    

Bowser captured the spirit of DC educators, who like Foster, reached out to students with new ideas and approaches to help each one make it through the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“So often, the reason families choose our schools is because they know that our educators go above and beyond to love and challenge our students. They know that we have teachers and school leaders who are invested in the success of our school communities. This week, and every week, we are proud to celebrate our teachers. Bowser said.” 

Held at the Kellogg Conference Hotel on the Gallaudet University campus in Northeast DC, the ceremony included a formal reception that honored 2020, 2021 and 2022 DC Teachers of the Year and finalists; 2019, 2020 and 2021 DC History Teachers of the Year; the 2019 Milken Educator Award winner; and the awardees and state finalists for the 2019 through 2022 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). See below for a list of these honored DC educators.

“The excellent teachers we celebrated today are dedicated to their profession and represent some of the best educators in the District of Columbia and the nation,” said Superintendent Grant.

“Our DC Educators of the Year are leaders in their schools and communities and are vitally important to the future of our city, especially during this time. Congratulations to all our award-winning DC educators and thank you for all you do to challenge our students, engage our families and transform lives,” she continued. 

OSSE also recognized its Superintendent’s Principal Advisory Council and Teacher Advisory Council which elevates teachers’ and leaders’ voices and advisors to Superintendent Grant to ensure the state education agency’s policies are informed by educators. Composed of outstanding school leaders and teachers from public and public charter elementary, middle, and high schools in all wards of the city, including the DC Teacher of the Year winners and finalists, these councils meet on a quarterly basis over a 12-month term. These advisory councils began in 2019 with the inaugural Teacher Advisory Council.

 DC Educator Award Winners

 Dominique Foster, 2022 DC Teacher of the Year, Friendship Public Charter School – Blow Pierce Elementary School; Rickita Perry Taylor, 2022 DC Teacher of the Year runner-up, Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School; Dr. Takeisha Wilson, 2022 DC Teacher of the Year runner-up, Shepherd Elementary School; Alejandro Diasgranados, 2021 DC Teacher of the Year, Aiton Elementary School; Lauren McKenzie Barbary, 2021 DC Teacher of the Year runner-up, Ron Brown College Preparatory High School; Shelina Warren, 2021 DC Teacher of the Year runner-up, Dunbar High School; Justin Lopez-Cardoze, 2020 DC Teacher of the Year, Capital City Public Charter Middle School; Elizabeth Barkley, 2020 DC Teacher of the Year runner-up, Cardozo Education Campus; Dr. Daniel Spruill, 2020 DC Teacher of the Year runner-up, Center City Public Charter School Brightwood Campus; Caneisha Mills, 2021 DC History Teacher of the Year, Hardy Middle School; Edward Donnellan, 2020 DC History Teacher of the Year, Gonzaga College High School; Alysha Butler, 2019 DC History Teacher of the Year, McKinley Technology High School; Claire Smullen, 2019 Milken Educator Award winner, Stuart-Hobson Middle School; 

2020 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST) awardees (announced by the White House in February 2022)

Sarah Werstuik, Brent Elementary School; Sheri Frierson-Chenier, Kimball Elementary School

2019 PAEMST Awardees (announced by White House in July 2020)

Ashley Kearney, Ron Brown College Preparatory High School; William Stafford, E.L. Haynes Public Charter High School 

2019 through 2022 PAEMST State Finalists

Bethany Rosera, Stuart-Hobson Middle School; Carmielle Darden, Friendship Public Charter School Collegiate Academy; Charlene Cummings, District of Columbia International School; 

Jan Schuettpelz, Oyster Adams Elementary School; Kiehl Christie, McKinley Technology High School; Noelani Davis, Hardy Middle School; Shane Donovan, District of Columbia International School; Stephen Sholtas, Hardy Middle School; Thomas Schutt, Columbia Heights Education Campus; Trilby Hillenbrand, Miner Elementary School.

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