UTC alumna Josalyn Tresvant ‘01, Special Education teacher at Knight Road Elementary in Memphis, Tennessee, was one of four teachers selected for the prestigious 2013 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice.   More than 570 educators applied for this national honor.  She has received $25,000 and has begun a special summer residency with TNTP, the nonprofit organization that offers the award.

Josalyn Tresvant

Josalyn Tresvant

The Fishman Prize is one of the most selective awards for practicing school teachers in the nation and is open only to those who teach in high-poverty public schools.

Tresvant, who earned a BA in communication at UTC, gave up a burgeoning career in banking to become a special educator through the Memphis Teaching Fellows program in 2009.

“Josalyn’s thoughtful use of technology for classroom purposes is years ahead of its time,” said TNTP President and Fishman Prize Judge Timothy Daly.  “The message Josalyn puts forth to students is not only that they should push themselves to learn new tools, but that staying connected to their academic growth is vital to their success.”

Students in Tresvant’s class sign their big goals for the year.  She then has candid conversations with them about their progress.  Her students, who typically enter her classroom three to four years below grade level, regularly leave her class having gained up to two years of growth in reading, and with proficient or advanced scores on their state assessment.

Tresvant is wrapping up the first week of a six-week summer residency.  She and her fellow award winners meet with leaders in education, engage in the challenge of helping more teachers improve their classroom practice, and collaborate on a short paper that captures their insights and knowledge.

This is the second year for the Fishman Prize.  It is named for Shira Fishman, a current DC Public Schools (DCPS) math teacher who was named the 2011 DCPS Teacher of the Year and received a 2011 Milken Educator Award. She left a career in engineering to become a teacher through TNTP’s highly selective DC Teaching Fellows program.

The application process is extremely rigorous and open to all full-time teachers working in high-poverty public schools.  This year, more than 570 teachers from 42 states submitted full applications.  About 100 were invited to submit teaching videos and letters of reference, and 20 were selected as semi-finalists, each of whom was observed at work in the classroom by TNTP staff.  Nine finalists were then interviewed by an expert panel of judges, including Fishman herself.

To learn more about the Fishman Prize, visit www.tntp.org/fishmanprize.

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