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Martha Holden Jennings Foundation recognizes 6 CMSD teachers




The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation has recognized six CMSD teachers in the presentation of its annual Educator Awards.

Honors for the CMSD teachers include:

  • Orchard STEM School teachers Tamera Zelwin, Deborah Schmidt and Takiyah Williams won the George B. Milbourn Award for Excellence in Team Teaching.
  • Rita Mikita, a teacher at the Garrett Morgan School of Leadership and Innovation, was one of six runners-up for the Arthur S. Holden Award for Excellence in Science Education.
  • New Tech West High School teacher Robert Clawson is being recognized as a finalist for the George B. Chapman Jr. Teacher Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education.
  • Katie Egan, an intervention specialist at Sunbeam PreK-8 School, was a finalist for master teacher.

Teachers are nominated by their district superintendent and principal. They also submit a narrative explaining how and why they teach. A committee interviews the finalists and selects the winner.

Zelwin, Schmidt and Williams won for turning a parking shortage at the school into a problem-based learning project for second, fifth and eighth graders. The students, who had called attention to the issue, researched and proposed a parking lot expansion that won approval. (See video below.)

Mikita, who formerly taught at MC2STEM High School, was a founding teacher at the Garrett Morgan School of Innovation and Leadership, which opened two years ago. She uses a rigorous inquiry and problem-based learning approach and has shared her practices and coached peers.

Clawson employs engaging practices such as having students use virtual-reality goggles to study bridges and other structures around the world. He and two other teachers used algebra and physical science concepts and skills to develop an escape room and then helped students create one of their own.

Egan teaches fifth and sixth graders with multiple disabilities and fully engages her students in inquiry-based learning. In one example, students used all five of their senses as they researched ecosystems and explored the question: “How is life on Earth interconnected?”

The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation works to foster the development of Ohio's PreK-12 students and encourage creativity in teaching. 

CEO Gordon said all of the teachers are models of the deeper learning that the foundation emphasizes and that CMSD has put at the center of its Vision for Learning.

The Orchard team collectively received $7,500 for use in their classrooms. Mikita received $1,000 for use in her classroom.