ASCD Selects Middle School Principal from Germantown, Md., and Business Studies Teacher from Rajkot, India, as 2009 Outstanding Young Educators
Orlando, FL (03/14/09)— Marc Cohen, principal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School (MLK) in Germantown, Md., and Bijal Damani, an 11th and 12th grade commerce and business studies teacher in the Galaxy Education System in Rajkot, India, are the winners of ASCD's 2009 Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA). ASCD honored Cohen and Damani today at its Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Orlando, Fla.
When Cohen became principal almost three years ago, MLK's student performance was struggling, student misbehavior was common, and achievement gaps were a reality. Cohen has helped to dramatically change the school's climate and the community's expectations. Student suspensions have been reduced by 73 percent and the school has now made "adequate yearly progress" under the No Child Left Behind Act for all grades and subject areas. In addition, the number of students taking algebra has more than doubled.
Cohen, who came to MLK with the goal of eliminating the racial predictability of student achievement in one year, says, "I believe every student is capable of achieving at very high levels, if only we could find a way to provide them with the necessary tools."
He created a master schedule that provides teachers common planning time and the opportunity to engage in ongoing job-embedded training in the use of equitable and rigorous instructional practices. Almost every day, Cohen conducts classroom walk-throughs and encourages his teachers to observe each other and provide feedback. He sets aside two coaching days a week to observe his teachers at work, provide support, and help them implement instructional changes. His teachers participate in regular student data chats to analyze all available data and develop individualized plans to help improve student performance.
Damani, who decided to teach instead of entering the corporate world because it offered her a chance to shape the future, says she tries to "connect the society around us with the principles of business by engaging students in hands-on activities related to real life experiences." She consistently uses project-based learning experiences with her students to help them understand business concepts while developing skills such as problem solving and creativity.
Her students run the school canteen, manage virtual investment portfolios, and organize the "Galaxy Bazaar" in which they oversee all aspects of a live marketplace, from market research and sales promotion to pricing and finance management.
Damani teaches her students not only about turning profits, but also the importance of corporate responsibility and business ethics. Her students' last Galaxy Bazaar resulted in a profit of 70,000 rupees (about 1,400 U.S. dollars), which will be donated toward the education of underprivileged students.
ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter recognized Cohen and Damani as outstanding representatives of their profession. "Both Bijal and Marc have demonstrated tremendous commitment to their students and have worked diligently to ensure each and every one of their students receives individualized support," said Carter.
ASCD, a nonprofit, worldwide education organization, created the OYEA Program in 2002 to recognize creative and committed teachers and administrators under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the lives of children. A panel of diverse education professionals selected Cohen and Damani as the 2009 OYEA winners from a record pool of candidates nominated by educators across the globe. They will each receive a $10,000 cash award and an ASCD Institutional membership for their schools.
Last year, ASCD revamped the OYEA Program to allow for two winners (a teacher and an administrator) and to provide both the winners and a cadre of honorees with opportunities for leadership skill building, professional development, networking, and sharing of best practices with one another and the ASCD community.
The 2009 OYEA honorees are Dallas Dance, assistant superintendent for instruction, Louisa County Public Schools, Mineral, Va.; Marnie Hazelton, director of state and federal funded programs and grants, Roosevelt Union Free School District, Roosevelt, New York; Carrie Larson, principal, C. T. Sewell Elementary School, Henderson, Nev.; Christopher Layson, history and social studies teacher, Utica Academy for International Studies, Sterling Heights, Mich.; Christopher Lehman, principal, the Science Leadership Academy, Philadelphia, Pa.; and Nicole Sneddon, technology specialist, Riverside Elementary School, Newport News, Va.
Nominations are currently being accepted for next year's award. Learn more about OYEA.
Contact ASCD to schedule an interview with or obtain a photograph of the OYEA winners.