Redwood City Teacher Wins $25,000 National Teaching Award

At a surprise announcement in her classroom this morning, Erica Stewart, a 4th Grade Math teacher at KIPP Excelencia Community Prep, learned she’s one of four teachers nationwide to win the 2016 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a $25,000 award recognizing the nation’s most effective teachers working in high-need public schools.

The Fishman Prize is extremely selective, boasting thousands of nominations each year and nearly 800 teacher applications in 2016. The applicants undergo a six-month selection process in which they submit essays, teaching videos, and letters of reference, and agree to an unannounced in-person classroom observation. Ten finalists were selected for in-person interviews with an expert panel of judges in New York City before four were ultimately named winners.

Erica was surprised by her partner, family, students, and local leaders including Beth Sutkus Thompson, Executive Director of KIPP Bay Area, and Kyle Shaffer, Principal at KIPP Excelencia Community Prep. Layla Avila, Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President at TNTP, presented her with the award.

“Ms. Stewart’s class is truly magical. Over the past eleven years, I have never seen anything like it,” says Principal Shaffer. “At the root of the magic lie her intentionality, creativity, and tireless work ethic. She’s passionate about excellent instruction and about all kids learning.  We need people like Erica to be recognized because we all can learn from her.”

In Erica Stewart’s classroom, more than 90 percent of students pass their state math exam each year, and more than a quarter earn advanced status. You wouldn’t know that they typically enter her classroom two grade levels behind. To achieve such success, Erica, who has eight-years of experience in the classroom, cultivates a genuine love and enthusiasm for math in her students. In addition, she says her goal as an instructor is to help students internalize the belief that greater challenges bear greater personal rewards.

This summer, Ms. Stewart will join the three other Fishman Prize winners for a six-week residency with TNTP, where they will meet with education leaders across the country and write essays capturing their insights as expert practitioners in the classroom.

The other winners include:

  • Evelyn Rebollar, High School English, Bronx Arena High School, Bronx, New York
  • Heather Howle, 8th Grade STEM, West Feliciana Middle School, St. Francisville, Louisiana
  • Matthew Patterson, 12th Grade English, Benjamin Banneker High School, College Park, Georgia

Learn more about TNTP’s Fishman Prize, including past winners, finalists and honorees here.


TNTP believes our nation’s public schools can offer all children an excellent education. A national nonprofit founded by teachers, we help school systems end educational inequality and achieve their goals for students. We work at every level of the public education system to attract and train talented teachers and school leaders, ensure rigorous and engaging classrooms, and create environments that prioritize great teaching and accelerate student learning. Since 1997, we’ve partnered with more than 200 public school districts, charter school networks and state departments of education. We have recruited or trained more than 50,000 teachers, inspired policy change through acclaimed studies such as The Widget Effect (2009) and The Mirage (2015), and launched one of the nation’s premiere awards for excellent teaching, the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice. Today, TNTP is active in more than 30 cities.