The 2016 Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize

Teaching Matters. That is not only our name, but our profound belief, and the belief of our founder, Elizabeth Rohatyn. In its sixth year, the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters will award $25,000 to a public school that advances opportunities for students by positioning teachers to lead, learn, and thrive.

The prize is open to publically funded schools within a 100 mile radius of New York City.

Please check back soon for more information about how to apply!

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 established Teaching Matters in 1994.

2015 Winner:

Teaching Matters awarded the fifth annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for Schools Where Teaching Matters to Regina Tottenham, Principal of the Brooklyn Transition Center (373K). She took $25,000 back to her school.

The Brooklyn Transition Center has a high percentage of teachers with fewer than five years of experience and is facing impending retirements as well. Tottenham’s Rohatyn Prize submission focused on the school’s two-pronged strategy to address the problem: expanding a teacher-mentor pilot to help new teachers, and increasing internal leaders with direct leadership training, team building, and a teacher-led hiring committee.

Tottenham, a 22-year special education veteran who rose through the ranks of teaching and administration, became a principal in 2011. She was thrilled to receive the award. “The Rohatyn Prize will allow us to deepen some very powerful teacher work that is strengthening our school culture and profoundly impacting the lives of our students. It’s about creating real opportunities for leadership and professional growth,” she said. “I can’t begin to explain how important this award is to taking teacher effectiveness to a new level at the Brooklyn Transition Center,” Tottenham added.

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Past Winners

2014 Winner: Ms. 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 has supported further professional development, teacher release time and the purchase of electronic equipment to aid communication.

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.