May 21, 2013
Memphis City Schools Teacher Josalyn Tresvant Wins $25,000 Teaching Award

Josalyn Tresvant of Knight Road Elementary School is one of four teachers nationwide to be awarded the 2013 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a prestigious award that spotlights excellence in teaching and the practices of the nation’s most effective educators.  She will receive $25,000 and participate in a special summer residency with TNTP, the nonprofit organization that offers the award.  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.

Today, Regional Superintendent Dr. Terrence Brown joined TNTP Vice President of Performance Management Victoria Van Cleef, Knight Road Elementary Principal Dr. Yvette Renfroe, TeachPlus Executive Director Lisa Watts, and Memphis Teaching Fellows Director Melissa Williams to inform Ms. Tresvant that she had won the award during a surprise visit to her classroom.

"We are so proud of Ms. Tresvant’s achievement – a result of her hard work, dedication and commitment. She is an extraordinary teacher and we appreciate everything she’s done for her students and the district,” said Dorsey E. Hopson, II Esq. - Superintendent, Memphis City and Shelby County Schools.

A graduate of Memphis City Schools, Josalyn Tresvant gave up a burgeoning career in banking to return to the school system and become a special educator through the Memphis Teaching Fellows program in 2009.  She enlists students in their own learning by having them sign their big goals for the year and by having candid conversations with them about their progress.  Her students, who typically enter her classroom 3 to 4 years below grade level, regularly leave her class having gained 1.5 to 2 years of growth in reading, and with proficient or advanced scores on their state assessment. 

Ms. Tresvant will be joining three other winners for an intensive, 6-week summer residency, during which they will 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. Last year’s winners wrote Unlocking Student Effort, which focuses on the challenge of engaging reluctant learners.

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 Ms. Fishman herself.

“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“It is no wonder that she has also been recognized by her peers and honored by her district as a Prestige Award recipient.”

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