Teaching Matters is proud to announce the 4th Annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters. Nominations for this $25,000 prize are closed for 2014.

There is no question that Teaching Matters. For this reason, we are awarding the fourth annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize to a school leader who is advancing teacher capacity and effectiveness.

The winner of the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize will receive a one-time award of $25,000 to support or further a school learning environment, program or practice that is advancing teacher effectiveness and has the potential to be replicated by other schools. The award may be applied to human resources; staffing; consultants; release and/or common planning time; software; hardware; or other materials.

2014 Finalists

Ailene Altman Mitchell, Park Slope Education Complex/JHS 88, Brooklyn, NY
Rigor and innovative instruction raise student learning. We are rolling out blended learning and flipped learning to all content and grades after piloting it in math and science and seeing the improved student achievement and engagement.

Jodie Cohen, James Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY
James Madison High School believes that collaboration across the disciplines is key to enriching student access to the instructional program. Through the meeting of instructionally focused teacher teams, models for effective teaching and classroom environments that promote rigor and a culture of learning have been established. The outgrowth of our model classroom initiative has been the creation of a professional development calendar and drop box for sharing electronic resources. Funding would support further professional development, teacher release time and the purchase of electronic equipment to aid communication.

Deirdre De’Angelis, New Dorp High School, Staten Island, NY
New Dorp High School has implemented a variety of structural and instructional systems to improve student outcomes. Through an inquiry approach, staff and administrators continually identify areas for growth and strategize possible levers for improving student outcomes. Concerned about the school's graduation rate, they divided the large, comprehensive high school into eight Small Learning Communities (SLCs), each with a specific career focus. Academically, they focused on writing as a growth area throughout the school based on analysis of student data.

Alicia Perez-Katz, Baruch College Campus High School, Manhattan, NY
Teachers and students feel connected through the advisory program at Baruch College Campus High School. Long after students graduate, teachers and advisees maintain a connection that was fostered through this program. When teachers have the opportunity to mold the future of their school and feel supported and connected, they stay and grow.

Christopher Zagacki, Freire Charter School, Philadelphia, PA
To address our teacher youth and our desire to retain talent and sustain improved instruction, our teacher effectiveness initiative is a mentor teacher program. A high performing master is released a period per day to allow for ongoing, job-embedded coaching for our first year teachers. It is based on the successful teacher apprenticeship program.


Principals are eligible for nomination as representatives of their publicly-funded K-12 schools. Schools in the New York metropolitan area (within a 100 mile radius of New York City) may apply. Principals may apply on their own behalf or be nominated by another educator or parent. Since this is a one-time award, Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize winners from previous years are not eligible. However, we encourage former applicants who meet program criteria to resubmit for consideration.


Submissions must demonstrate exemplary practice in attracting, growing or retaining great teachers. Examples may include but are not limited to:

Teacher Recruiting, Teacher Leadership, Data Use and Collaborative Inquiry, Smart Retention, and Observation and Feedback.

Submissions will be judged by a Prize Committee comprised of educational innovators and practitioners using the criteria that follow. To view the complete rubric please click here.

  • Supportive of Learning – The initiative benefits student learning outcomes.
  • Expectations for Effective Teaching – The initiative promotes a culture of clear and shared high expectations for instructional practice and student outcomes.
  • Promotes Professional Growth – The initiative promotes professional growth and recognizes excellence.
  • Cost Effectiveness – The initiative contains costs without seriously compromising its integrity.
  • Sustainability – The initiative is supported by and supportive of a critical school improvement priority. It has the potential to scale to other parts of the school.
  • Replicability – The initiative can be replicated in other schools with a minimum of difficulty.

Selection Process

The Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize winner is selected by a multi-step process that includes:

  • Completion of a nomination/qualifying online application by either nominee or nominating colleague or parent
  • Submission of a full application by nominee
  • Final selection determined by a vote representing the prize committee and the public.

As part of the voting process, finalists are required to share their initiatives online with the educational community. Finalists should be prepared to work with Teaching Matters in developing a short presentation on their exemplary practice.

About The Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize

The Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize is underwritten by The Elizabeth Rohatyn Innovation Fund. Mrs. Rohatyn is a champion of innovation and education. Driven by the belief that teachers are the most important school-related factor in raising student achievement, Mrs. Rohatyn joined forces with former teachers, principals and technology experts and founded Teaching Matters in 1994.

Past Winners

2013 Winner: Dr. Salvador Fernandez of JHS052 Inwood, Manhattan, NY

Inwood Intermediate School 52, located in upper Manhattan, has committed itself to collaboratively developing, conducting and participating in professional development that refines and strengthens instructional design and delivery. The Rohatyn Prize offered the opportunity to pursue these efforts through a two-part process: 1) Curriculum Redesign and 2) Interclass Visitation. Both parts connect as they allow staff to look closely at both planning of lessons and the delivery of instruction.

The Curriculum Redesign Process is a project that has afforded teams of teachers the chance to examine units of study in ELA looking specifically at alignment: alignment to standards, horizontal alignment within each grade, and vertical alignment across grades. The Interclass Visitation Process, then, allows teachers to see these units in practice by looking at what is happening within classrooms. Teachers visit one another either one-on-one or in small groups, taking low-inference observation notes and looking at elements such as questioning & discussion techniques, instructional strategies, and differentiation. Teachers debrief and provide feedback to one another. Feedback includes clear next steps and often informs professional development offerings within the school, tailored to the needs of our teachers. Both processes promote high expectations for all staff and students, and provide support in reaching and maintaining quality practice.

2012 Winner: Ms. Rose Kerr of Staten Island School of Civic Leadership (R861), Staten Island, NY

The Triad Model is a teacher effectiveness initiative that puts three teachers in charge of comprehensive instruction for two classrooms. This allows the team of teachers to own responsibility for everything from analyzing student performance data and developing interventions, to scheduling. The initiative elevates teacher teaming to a whole new level. During her acceptance speech, principal Kerr explained the powerful effects of the Triad Model. "Ask any child in our building who their teacher is and it becomes plainly obvious they have not one, but three teachers accountable for their continued success," said Ms. Kerr.

2011 Winner: Ms. Jeanne Rotunda of West Side Collaborative (MS250), Manhattan, NYC

The Westside Collaborative/MS250 is an innovative middle school located in Manhattan that aims to foster teacher effectiveness through the expansion of an online collaborative community. The online structure fosters staff ability to differentiate for students, share resources and lessons, collaborate without the time constraints of meeting face-to-face, track progress, communicate about school-based teacher-leader initiatives and use assessment strategically. The effectiveness of the staffs’ use of these tools is evidence of how ingrained the collaborative structure is at West Side Collaborative where 75% of the staff is in teacher leader roles. The school schedule and differentiated staff roles promote the sharing of best practices in a culture of continual learning. This online collaboration system increases the ways the staff shares and makes that sharing transparent. The Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize allowed West Side Collaborative to further the school’s professional learning community. Ipads purchased for teachers made the entire process more efficient and effective. By allowing teachers to keep their dedicated tool with them as they travel between their shared classrooms, their ability to collaborate within and beyond the school day was extended.