Camden Education Fund Names 10 Teachers as RISE Awardees

AC JosepH Media

CAMDEN – The Camden Education Fund last week announced the winners of the RISE (Resilient, Inspirational, Solutions-Oriented Educators) awards to honor city teachers for their hard work and dedication during the pandemic.  

The 10 teachers received $2,000 each, a Certificate of Achievement from the City, and a congratulatory video from Sixers General Manager Elton Brand.  

The winners include:

  • Kari Cohen – HB Wilson Family School
  • Erica El – Yorkship Family School
  • Erica Graves – Camden Prep: Copewood Elementary School 
  • Charlysse Graham – KIPP Lanning Square Middle School 
  • Shamira Hawkins – KIPP Lanning Square Primary
  • Evelin Martinez – Camden’s Pride Charter School
  • Brittney Moore – Camden Prep: Copewood Elementary School
  • Constance Reagin – Veterans Memorial Family School
  • Meredith Schoyer – KIPP Lanning Square Primary 
  • Joji Thompson – Camden Academy Charter High School 

“Camden’s public schools have made tremendous progress over the past few years, thanks to the city’s hardworking educators,” said Camden Education Fund executive director Naeha Dean. “The unprecedented challenges of this school year required an unprecedented level of resilience and dedication. We are excited to celebrate the extraordinary teachers selected for the RISE awards.”

More than 200 teachers were nominated by either a student, parent/guardian, or teacher/leader. An independent committee of veteran educators reviewed all nominations and identified 20 finalists. 

The committee included: Dr. Robert Goodman, Executive Director of New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning; Dr. Alaina Harper, Dean of Relay Graduation School of Education; Erica Watson-Brown, Elementary Education Program Coordinator at Rowan University; and Jonathan Garr, Director of School Investments at Camden Education Fund. The committee then surveyed principals and observed lessons to evaluate each finalist

“The impressive number of teachers nominated is a testament to the respect and admiration that the families, students, and educators have for Camden’s public school teachers,” Goodman said. “A rigorous evaluation process was used to identify the teachers who most exemplified the values of excellence, humility, equity, and integrity, an especially difficult task with so many high quality submissions. All nominees are to be congratulated for a job well done.”

The winning teachers represent the diversity of education offerings in the city. They include elementary, middle, and high school teachers; district, charter, and renaissance teachers; general education, special education, and bilingual/ESL teachers. 

“Buildings were closed for most of this year, but school was always open,” Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen said. “As we celebrate this graduation season, remember that behind every smiling picture of a student in a graduation cap is a teacher who contributed to that success. We salute these RISE award winners for their unwavering dedication to students in this challenging year.”

Since March 2020, the Camden Education Fund has donated more than $1.5 million to support schools’ response to the pandemic, including $370,000 for laptops, $800,000 to eight school networks to assist with reopening, and $200,000 to local nonprofits.  In addition, Camden Education Fund has launched an innovative partnership with Rowan University, now operating virtually, to attract more teachers to Camden.    

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