6 Camden Educators Win RISE Teaching Award, Certificate From City

Feature Photo of Kaneesha Moore receiving an award from Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen. Photo by Orlando Caban, Creative Mind Media

AC JosepH Media

CAMDEN — The Camden Education Fund on Thursday (May 26) announced the winners of the 2022 RISE Teaching Award, a citywide distinction honoring outstanding teachers across Camden’s public schools.

Six teachers each received a $5,000 prize, a Certificate of Achievement from the City, a congratulatory video, and a surprise classroom visit from Mayor Victor Carstarphen notifying them of their selection.

The winners include:

*Patrick Ardis, high school special education teacher at Camden Academy Charter High School

*Sonia Chugh, high school English Language Learner teacher at LEAP Academy High School

*Kaneesha Moore, middle school history teacher at KIPP Lanning Square Middle

*Lauren Nuss, middle school math teacher at Morgan Village Middle School

*Leslie Showell, prekindergarten teacher at R.T. Cream Early Childhood Center

*Dominique Young, kindergarten teacher at Camden Prep Mt. Ephraim Elementary School

RISE winner Patrick Ardis shares moment with his students. Photo by Orlando Caban, Creative Mind Media
Award-winner teacher Sonia Chugh is surrounded by her students. Photo by Orlando Caban, Creative Mind Media

“We are proud to partner with the City and its public schools to create the opportunity to honor and reward outstanding educators,” said Camden Education Fund executive director Naeha Dean.

“The steady growth Camden schools have seen over the last several years is fueled by the day-to-day efforts of our classroom teachers, and we are thrilled to recognize some of these outstanding professionals with the RISE Teacher Award today.”

“The future of our city lies with our young people. There is no more important responsibility than educating, caring for, and guiding our youth. The RISE Award winners, and all of our city’s educators, deserve our utmost appreciation, and I am excited to celebrate them today,” said Carstaphen. 

Teacher Leslie Showell receives her honor in front of the media. Photo by Orlando Caban, Creative Mind Media
Award-winning teacher Dominique Young received award from Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen and Camden Education Fund. Photo by Orlando Caban, Creative Mind Media

Selection for the 2022 RISE Award began in November, when Camden Education Fund sought nominations from school principals across the city. 

Teachers who were nominated by principals were invited to complete applications, including reflections on their teaching practice and identification of additional recommenders, such as colleagues, students, or families.  

An independent committee of veteran educators reviewed all RISE applications and identified 15 finalists.  The committee included:  Melissa Axelsson from The New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning; Dr. Toni Barton, Relay Graduate 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 observed lessons and reviewed teachers’ lesson reflections to evaluate each finalist. 

“This year’s nominees display not only a passion for students and instruction, but a love for doing that work in the city of Camden,” said Garr. “They are not only excellent teachers, but role models for their entire school community.  We are constantly humbled by the dedication of our teachers, and we’re proud to honor the 2022 winners with this award.”

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.

“We are blessed to have incredible educators in the city of Camden,” said Superintendent Katrina T. McCombs. “It is a true pleasure to celebrate these professionals for the work they do shaping the lives of our students, from our youngest learners all the way up to our graduating seniors.  We congratulate all of the winners, especially our honorees in the Camden City School District, and we thank our partners at the Camden Education Fund for this opportunity.”

Since March 2020, the Camden Education Fund has donated more than $1.5 million to support schools’ response to the pandemic, $1.2 million to bolster schools’ supports for students with disabilities, and $200,000 to local nonprofits.  In addition, Camden Education Fund has launched an innovative partnership with Rowan University to attract more teachers to Camden. 

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