TNTP Launches Major Award to Recognize Extraordinary Teaching

“The Fishman Prize” offers top teachers $25,000 and the chance to share their classroom expertise with educators nationwide.

BROOKLYN, NY – TNTP, a nonprofit organization working to ensure that more students learn from excellent teachers, today announced the launch of the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a prestigious award intended to spotlight excellence in teaching and the practices of the nation’s most effective educators.  Winners will receive $25,000 and the opportunity to complete a summer fellowship with TNTP, which will include collaborating on a short paper that codifies instructional techniques of the winning group.  The $25,000 award places the Fishman Prize among the largest monetary awards for practicing teachers in the nation.

“Our greatest teachers go largely unrecognized,” said TNTP President Tim Daly. “And yet they possess the knowledge that can make all teachers better.  They work incredibly hard to master their craft. They are never satisfied. They push students to achieve their dreams.  We created the Fishman Prize to honor these teachers and to broadcast their expertise to all educators.”

The Fishman Prize is named for Shira Fishman, a current DC Public Schools (DCPS) math teacher who started teaching through TNTP’s DC Teaching Fellows program in 2004. Before she became a teacher, Shira was a mechanical engineer. She now works at McKinley Technology High School in northeast Washington, D.C., where as Chairperson of the math department she has helped make McKinley one of the top-performing schools in the district. She was recently named the 2011 DCPS Teacher of the Year and was one of 40 teachers nationwide to receive a 2011 Milken Educator Award. 

The Fishman Prize will be awarded by TNTP to no more than five teachers a year. Any full-time teacher working in a public school where 40% or more of the students are eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch, including public charter schools, may apply. Those selected as finalists or winners will demonstrate:

  • An extraordinary ability to lead students from all backgrounds to academic excellence
  • A keen understanding of effective instructional practice and an ability to articulate it clearly
  • A passion for teaching and a deep commitment to advancing the teaching profession

“I think you become great when you know that you're never done learning,” said Fishman. “You're constantly evolving and reaching out. I hope that this prize really tells teachers, ‘You are appreciated.’ There are people out here that know how hard you work and recognize the difference that you’re making in the lives of your kids.”

“Teachers are working hard in their classrooms every day, and we don’t do enough to recognize and reward those who are transforming the lives of students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “I want to express my gratitude to TNTP for this new award to honor outstanding teachers and challenge them to share their ideas with their colleagues.”

The deadline for applications is Friday, February 3, 2012. For more information on how to apply or to refer a great teacher for the Fishman Prize, please visit

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

Learn More About TNTP