March 26, 2012

Elementary Educators honored for Excellence 

Mann principal, Tubman special education teacher receive prestigious Washington Post awards

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Two District of Columbia Public Schools educators have received the Washington Post Educational Foundation’s highest honors for principal and teacher for the 2010-2011 school year.

Mann Elementary School Principal Liz Whisnant has received the Washington Post’s Distinguished Educational Leadership Award, and Arnita Meekins, a special education teacher at Tubman Elementary School, has won the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.

The Agnes Meyer Awards recognize excellence in teaching, encourage creative and quality instruction, and highlight the contributions teachers make to the improvement of education in the Washington metropolitan area, according to the Washington Post website.

The Distinguished Educational Leadership Awards were created to recognize school principals and are modeled after the Agnes Meyer Awards. The program recognizes principals who go above the day-to-day demands of their profession to create exceptional educational environments for our children.

Under Principal Whisnant’s leadership over the past seven years, Mann Elementary has consistently ranked among the highest in DCPS in terms of student achievement. Ms. Whisnant also has been instrumental in district-wide initiatives, including co-founding the District of Columbia Collaborative for Change (DC3).

Throughout her tenure, Mann’s students have maintained above 90 percent proficiency rates in both reading and math. Currently, 91 percent of Mann’s students are proficient in both reading and math, and over the past year, Mann has shown a 10 percent gain in the percentage of students who are at an advanced level in math.

This level of consistent performance is a testament to Ms. Whisnant’s sustained academic leadership and is one of the many reasons that DCPS honored her this fall with the Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Leadership and that Mann was named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Last year, she also served as a member of the Chancellor’s Principal Cabinet, a select group of principals who are selected annually to help guide district policy and practice.

Ms. Meekins has served as a special education teacher in DCPS since 1986. She started DCPS her career at Park View Elementary before moving to Tubman in 2007.

As a special education teacher, Ms. Meekins regularly facilitates multidisciplinary team meetings to develop and implement appropriate individualized education programs. She collaborates with general educational teachers and support staff to ensure that all special needs students with whom she works receives a free and appropriate public education in accordance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Ms. Meekins also has served as a coach with the Washington DC Special Olympics; supervising teacher with DC Teaching Fellows; board member with the Parent Teacher Association; an instructor and mentor in the National "Best Friends" program; chairwoman of the special education department; resident mentor for new teachers; afterschool coordinator; School Chapter Advisory Committee member with the Washington Teachers Union; presenter at workshops on "Differentiated Instruction"; and trainer for developing creative and effective ways to implement phonics activities and literacy centers.

As a teacher, she is devoted to ensuring that each student reaches his or her full potential. This is seldom an easy task as she serves students with a full range of differing skill sets, aptitudes and abilities. However, no matter the challenge, she remains dedicated to move students forward both academically and socially. When planning and teaching lessons, Ms. Meekins will go above and beyond to help her students understand the "real life" connections to the academics they study.

Ms. Meekins has twice been rated Highly Effective under DCPS’ IMPACT evaluation system. In recognition of her outstanding achievement, she was awarded a Rubenstein Award for Highly Effective Teaching for the 2010-2011 school year.

Inside DCPS Highlights.


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