Teach for America Announces 2014 Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Awards

July 9, 2014

FLORENCE, SC –  Teach For America recently announced the five recipients of its 2014 Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Awards to highlight and share best practices from some of the organization’s most impactful corps members, inform future teacher preparation, and further learning and development. Teach For America selected diverse individuals from across the country for their innovative work in their schools. Awardees have fostered substantial academic and personal growth in their students. To further advance their work and achievement, Teach For America will award $5,000 to be split between each recipient and their school.


2014 Sue Lehmann Excellence in Teaching Learning Loop Awards Recipients:


Vincent Amendolare (South Carolina Corps ’12), High School English Teacher, Marlboro County High School, South Carolina: Vincent pushes his students to develop visions for what they want in the future, and uses rigor in the classroom to supplement his students’ interests. Last year, Vincent’s students had a 93 percent pass rate on the state exam – the best in his high school by over 30 points, and among the highest in the district. They also made 1.8 years of reading growth.


Mary Powers (South Dakota Corps ’12), High School Math Teacher, Little Wound School, Pine Ridge Reservation – South Dakota: Mary’s vision for her classroom was to empower her students’ leadership. A group of students at Little Wound School were so inspired by the challenge of calculus class, that the students decided to request an AP Calculus course. Mary Powers partnered with Little Wound’s school leadership to train and offer an AP Calculus course to better prepare students for the rigors of college. She also served as the chair of the math department and helped her school use math data to create differentiated opportunities for every student to get additional support, resulting in the creation of differentiated Transition Math Courses. Mary helped achieve the vision of the school board, students and parents to increase remedial math instruction. Last year, Mary’s leadership and partnership with students resulted in four full years of growth on average in math mastery.


Caroline James (Greater New Orleans Corps ’12), Fifth Grade Teacher, Success Preparatory Academy, New Orleans: Caroline’s belief that her students’ social consciousness and leadership is inseperable from their academic achievement has yielded many gains, as she spent her first year as a fourth-grade interventionist for students who had previously failed the state tests and read on a first-grade level. She led her students to an average gain of 50 percent on reading assessment, and stayed with this group to become their fifth grade teacher.


Mary Cooper (Dallas­-Fort Worth Corps ’12), High School Physics Teacher, Wimer Hutchins High School, Dallas: In her first year, 100 percent of Mary’s juniors passed their state science assessment – a first in the history of her school, which  motivated a neighboring high school to send its entire physics department to observe her instruction. The success of her students inspired their self-advocacy and prepared them to take AP Physics, which Mary now also teaches.


Shirley Bolden (Dallas-Fort Worth Corps ’12), Middle School Humanities Teacher, Benjamin Franklin Middle School, Dallas: Of Shirley’s three sixth-grade classes, two are on track to make over two years of reading growth, with the third class on track to make over three years. On the state assessment, her students outperformed the entire district on every standard, and her classes had a passing rate of 79.1 percent – a full 25 points higher than the district average.


“This year’s recipients have leveraged the life experiences of their students to teach lessons that go beyond academics, helping to develop character traits that will continue to influence their students in the future,” said Emilie Smith, the facilitator of the learning loop and a Senior Managing Director on Teach For America’s Teacher Preparation, Support, and Development Team. “What we are learning from these teachers will inform training for future corps members, helping to ensure students in our classrooms are on a path to broadened and enduring opportunities in life.”

Created in honor of longtime Teach For America national board member Sue Lehmann, the annual award celebrates some of Teach For America’s most impactful teachers. Nominations are submitted by Teach For America’s regional teams, and evaluated by a national selection committee. The award process enables Teach For America to learn from its most successful teachers and to better support all corps members and their students.



About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. Our corps in the 2013-14 school year included 11,000 teachers in 48 urban and rural regions across the country. Today, our 37,000 alumni are working across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.