San Francisco, CA (03/26/11)—Luis Torres, principal of PS 55 in the Bronx, and Brad Kuntz, teacher at Gladstone High School in Gladstone, Ore., are the winners of ASCD’s 2011 Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA). ASCD honored Torres and Kuntz today at its 66th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in San Francisco, Calif.
“They are talented professionals, and we are pleased to recognize their achievements,” said ASCD Executive Director Gene R. Carter at the awards ceremony. “Both are highly effective at their jobs, and both are going to continue to change the lives of many students during their careers.”
Torres revitalized a New York elementary school, instigating a dramatic turnaround for the 700 prekindergarten through 5th grade students who attend PS 55. “As a school leader, I try to view the world through the eyes of the children,” remarked Torres. “If they feel safe, healthy, and reach their goals, I am doing a great job. We can no longer ignore the needs of the whole child and solely focus on academics.”
Torres was selected for his passionate commitment to education excellence and leadership. To move his school and students forward, Torres partnered with local sports teams like the New York Yankees, New Jersey Nets, and New York Mets to promote healthy living to his school’s community. Torres is the school’s biggest cheerleader, securing funding for programs like the school’s health clinic. He also raised more than $250,000 for a new library and secured a new playground for his students.
Under his leadership, the school has seen a dramatic increase math test scores. And, Torres’ contributions to the school are felt throughout the neighborhood. Torres grew up in New York City close to PS 55.“[I was raised] to be a leader and give back,” said Torres.
Meanwhile, Oregon teacher Brad Kuntz has played an active role in developing a classroom culture that serves as a safe environment for building student confidence. A Spanish teacher by day, Kuntz devotes his time after school to teaching students environmental awareness and has established an environmental leadership course that inspired students to start recycling programs and create an on-campus compost system that fertilizes the school garden.
“My favorite part of teaching is harnessing the energy and enthusiasm students have for learning and showing them how to use it to create change,” said Kuntz. “It’s thrilling watching students embrace the knowledge that their actions have power and their voices can be heard.”
Kuntz is also heavily involved with his school’s staff, serving on various committees with fellow faculty and involving them in his club’s projects. Kuntz has brought his passion for environmental sustainability to the school district level, and led students to compete in a citywide light bulb environmental sustainability competition.
ASCD, an international educational leadership association, 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 children’s lives. A panel of diverse education professionals selected Torres and Kuntz as the 2011 OYEA winners from a large 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.
ASCD’s OYEA Program provides winners and a cadre of honorees with opportunities for leadership skill building, professional development, networking, and best practice sharing with one another and the ASCD community. Pinnacle by GlobalScholar is a sponsor of the 2011 OYEA Program.
ASCD is currently accepting nominations for next year’s award. To nominate someone or learn more about the OYEA Program, visit www.ascd.org/oyea. Contact ASCD to schedule an interview with or obtain a photograph of the OYEA winners.
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