This week, CPS teacher Javier Velazquez was one of only four teachers in the entire country to be awarded the Fishman Prize – an honor that recognizes innovative educators who display superlative classroom practice in low-income schools.
A math teacher at the Howe School of Excellence, Mr. Velazquez graduated from the AUSL Chicago Teacher Residency Program in 2004 after a successful career in architecture. He joined Howe during the first year of its AUSL turnaround, and has been driving huge academic gains in mathematics ever since.
"On behalf of the District, I thank Mr. Velazquez for his dedication and creative teaching style that has had a positive impact on the students he serves at Howe," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "I couldn't be more proud to have such a dynamic educator with the District."
The Fishman Prize means a $25,000 award and a place for Mr. Velazquez in the distinguished summer residency program offered by The New Teacher Project (TNTP). During this intensive six-week session, he and his fellow honorees will meet with education leaders, work with fellow teachers to improve their classroom practice, and collaborate on a paper that captures their insights and best practices as educators.
The Fishman Prize is named for Shira Fishman, a highly-respected educator from the Washington D.C. public school system who left engineering for a career in the classroom. This is the second consecutive win for an AUSL-managed CPS school, as National Teachers Academy instructor Katie Lyons was among the 2012 winners of the Fishman Prize, and Mr. Velazquez now holds the honor for 2013.
"Javier is the epitome of a teacher who makes himself a part of the community where he teaches, attending the sporting events and knowing the local families," said Tim Daly, President of TNTP. "His deep belief in the potential of his students makes him deflect credit for his accomplishments to others, but Javier is the type of teacher we all dream about for our own kids."