Photo by terren in Virginia on Flickr.
DCPS feted its mostly highly rated educators at the Standing Ovation for DC Teachers Monday night at the Kennedy Center. The annual awards ceremony features a star-studded cast of presenters.
“I am so proud to be a DC Public Schools teacher tonight!” exclaimed Kathy Hollowell-Mackie, a kindergarten teacher at Simon Elementary School, as she accepted her award as DCPS Teacher of the Year.
This year DCPS honored over 1,300 teachers who were rated “highly effective” under its evaluation system, a record number, along with school leaders and support staff. Local news anchor Jim Vance served as host, and the respectable list of presenters included Jill Biden, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mayor Vincent Gray, fashion consultant Tim Gunn, and Washington Redskins player Joshua Morgan. The event also included performances by singers Luke James and Estelle.
To begin the presentations, Chancellor Kaya Henderson instructed the “highly effective” educators in the audience to “sit back and relax and let us inspire you,” because “you are who inspires our students.” David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group and co-chair of the event, financed awards of $5,000 to 30 educators.
In addition, 7 teachers, including Hollowell-Mackie, received Excellence in Teaching Awards. Abdullah A. Zaki II, principal of Kelly Middle School, received the Excellence in Leadership Award and was named DCPS Principal of the Year. Winners of the Excellence awards received $10,000.
Throughout the night, presenters told anecdotes about teachers who had impacted their lives. Mr. Rubenstein shared a story about his 6th grade teacher, who inspired him to give back to his country by introducing him and other students to President John F. Kennedy’s historic 1961 inaugural speech. Each presentation and acceptance speech was inspirational in its own right.
Chenise Richards, a 12th-grade English teacher at Coolidge Senior High School, ran on stage with her cell phone to take a “selfie” with presenter Colin Powell before receiving her award. And Project Runway’s Tim Gunn, who grew up in DC, remarked that he “didn’t know the level of talent here tonight would make me feel like a mongrel at the Westminster kennel club.”
Monday’s event was the fourth annual Standing Ovation. The celebration, said Mayor Gray, joins “the business community, the arts sector, and the philanthropic community to thank teachers.” He added that “the excellence is evident in the results,” referring to double-digit growth in reading and math scores at Kelly Miller.
The awards show has become the premier event for educators in the District. Proceeds from the event benefit the DC Public Education Fund, which over the past 5 years has raised $80 million to support innovative investments in DCPS.