Alumna Receives Prestigious Teaching Award

Erin Dukeshire ’10GS, a 6th grade science teacher at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Roxbury is one of only four teachers nationwide awarded the 2015 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a prestigious honor recognizing the nation’s most effective teachers working in high-poverty public schools. 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 extremely selective, with over 5,000 teachers nominated this year and nearly 800 submitting applications from 46 states and Washington, DC. Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh, Elementary and Secondary Education Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram, and John McDonough, Interim Superintendent of Boston Public Schools visited Dukeshire’s school on May 28 to announce her award. 

Dukeshire’s passion is not merely teaching science, but cultivating future scientists.  That’s why, early in her career, when science standards and assessments were focused almost entirely on content, Erin decided to spend at least a quarter of her time with students on the practice of science and inquiry skills. Her students frequently write their own hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions. 

“My students are teaching themselves science by running experiments and building models,” she says. “They have to talk, they have to write, and they have to develop a vocabulary to work together.” 

The approach makes for an inspiring classroom where students thrive; incoming students who average between 0 – 5 percent proficiency on the 5th grade science MCAS advance to an average of 60 percent proficiency on science assessments aligned to the same state standards during their 6th grade year. 

“Erin is an exceptional teacher who is passionate about not just teaching science to her sixth-grade students, but turning them into young scientists,” says McDonough. “She is part of a team of dedicated educators who have turned Orchard Gardens into a top-level school with vibrant classrooms. We are honored she has been chosen for this prestigious award. She makes Boston Public Schools proud.” 

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