The Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership is presented annually to a Teach For America alumnus/a whose work has led to significant and measurable systemic change on a broad scale in the last year. Nominees should embody the core values of Teach For America. Please see past winners and finalists below for examples.
Award winners and two finalists will be celebrated at Teach For America’s annual Alumni Educators Conference, to be held this July 17-18th in Las Vegas, Nevada. They are also invited, with all costs underwritten, to participate in Teach For All’s Global Conference as ambassadors from the United States. The conference will be held in Puebla, Mexico the week of October 13th. The winner of the Peter Jennings Award receives a prize of $10,000.
This award is named as a tribute to the late journalist and ABC News anchor Peter Jennings whose dedication to expanding educational opportunity has done so much to advance our cause.
Teach For America alumni, corps members, and colleagues are invited to nominate candidates for consideration. The deadline for nominations for 2014 has passed.
The recipient(s) will be selected by an external committee led by Kayce Jennings, wife of the late Peter Jennings.
Julie Jackson (Greater Newark Corps ’94) has been lauded as one of the top school leaders in the nation, now guiding nine schools and more than 3,000 students to stunning academic gains. She began her career teaching eighth grade English in Paterson, NJ, earning the city’s teacher of the year honor in 1998. She then became a teacher and principal with Newark’s North Start Academy network, now a part of Uncommon Schools. Over nearly two decades, Jackson has built a remarkable track record of leading low-income students to outperform their higher-income peers. Between 2001-2007, Jackson founded two new charter schools: North Star Academy College Preparatory and North Star Academy Vailsburg Elementary. In 2012, students at NSA College Prep were ranked among the top 10 in the world on the international PISA assessment. For several years running, every student in the school’s graduating class has been accepted to at least one four-year college, and alumni have an 80 percent college completion rate. In 2007, the year Jackson founded Valisburg Elementary, only 3 percent of incoming students could read at grade level. Within one year- and every year since- that figure has reached 100 percent. The school’s third and fourth graders are ranked first in reading in the state of New Jersey, and in the top 25 for math. In addition to mentoring and coaching leaders with the Uncommon network, Jackson has traveled all over the world to teach aspiring school leaders. Her schools have become models for educators worldwide, welcoming more than 7,000 visitors.
- Shannen Coleman Siciliano (Baltimore ’03), Director of Strategic Initiatives, Child First Authority, & Past Co-Chair, Baltimore Education Coalition
- Yasmene Mumby (Baltimore ’08), Director of Community Engagement, KIPP Baltimore, & Co-Chair, Baltimore Education Coalition
- Jonathan Klein (Los Angeles Corps ’97), Co-Founder and Executive Director, Great Oakland Public Schools
The Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC), powered in large part by Shannen Coleman Siciliano and lifelong Baltimorean Yasmene Mumby, is one of the most influential groups in Baltimore fighting on behalf of the city’s students. Beginning in 2009, Coleman helped transform the BEC from a struggling, fragmented educational advocacy organization into the powerful and effective group it is today. In 2012, with Siciliano’s support, Mumby was elected unanimously as the group’s co-chair to succeed Siciliano. Working together in 2012, the women rallied more than 1,500 teachers, students, parents and stakeholders successfully to protest more than $100 million in education cuts in the fiscal 2013 state budget. They were also instrumental in garnering statewide support for the 21st Century School Facilities Initiative – a 10-year, $1 billion bill passed by Maryland’s legislature and signed by its governor to revitalize Baltimore’s crumbling educational infrastructure. Both women maintain fulltime jobs outside of the BEC as well. As the director of community engagement for KIPP Baltimore, Mumby created Team ORGANIZE, a network of KIPP parents, teachers, staff, and students who act together in support of issues that positively benefit KIPP and Baltimore. Siciliano manages high-quality in-and after-school programs in Baltimore City Public Schools. Siciliano remains active with the BEC as a supervisor of its community organizing efforts and mentor to its current co-chairs.
In 2008, Jonathan Klein co-founded Great Oakland Public Schools, or GO Public Schools, to organize parents, educators, and activists around solutions to lift Oakland’s schools to the levels that all students deserve. Under his leadership, GO led an unprecedented effort in 2012 to raise the profile of Oakland’s four local school board races after eight of the previous 12 school board elections had gone uncontested. GO incorporated community input and eventually supported three candidates to run against incumbents. The organization inspired 400 people to donate to the campaigns, and rallied volunteers to knock on more than 11,500 doors and call more than 64,000 voters. Each of the three candidates won in a landslide. In addition, GO spearheaded a successful campaign in support of the city’s effort to raise $475 million for upgrades to school facilities and improved access to healthy meals.