KIPP teacher wins $25,000

ByKhai Hoang

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As KIPP GCP Pride High School 11th-grade teacher Brett Noble was teaching class Tuesday morning, he had no idea he won the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, besting about 800 people and earning himself $25,000.

Members from TNTP, which created the prize, the school’s principal, and Noble’s mother and sister surprised him by interrupting his class and carrying a large trophy engraved with his name.

With his mouth wide open, Noble could only smile as more and more people, including his previous students, filled the room.

“I realized what just happened, and it just like hit me all at once,” he said.

Noble was one of just four winners in this year’s TNTP Fishman Prize. TNTP created the annual prize six years ago. It rewards teachers who are committed to classroom excellence, provide rigorous lessons, engage students and show a love for their craft.

“People recognize celebrities, but they don’t think to recognize teachers, and we wanted to honor the profession of teaching,” said TNTP Vice President Tonya Horton.

The process began in October after people nominated those they deemed worthy, and the number eventually dwindled to nine finalists who met in New York for a final interview. Noble, two California teachers and a D.C. teacher eventually edged out the others. Noble is the second teacher from North Carolina to have won the Fishman Prize. The first was Greensboro resident Leslie Ross in 2012, who also attended Noble’s surprise award ceremony.

Noble has been with KIPP GCP Pride High School for seven years teaching English. He earned his degree in English with a minor in journalism at Wake Forest.

For him, the award was only possible because he stands on the shoulders of giants, namely those who have been with the school for so long. They’ve pushed him, and in turn, he has pushed his students.

Principal Kevika Amar said she is grateful for what Noble has done for the students, families, staff and community.

“This prize is awesome, but what it really represents is the hard work you do every single day for our kids,” Amar told Noble.

KIPP GCP Pride High School Executive Director Tammi Sutton recalled when Noble first joined the high school; he applied one day and began work the next. There wasn’t even a curriculum, so Noble had to create it himself, Sutton said.

“And from those early days, that is how Brett, Mr. Noble, has jumped in to say, ‘There is a need. How can I help fill that?’” Sutton said. “He started with ‘How can I be the best teacher possible?’ That’s what he focused on his first year.”

Noble’s students praised his work, citing his helpfulness. One said he has grown throughout the year while in Noble’s class, and another has found enjoyment in writing.

Noble said he isn’t sure how he wants to spend the $25,000, laughing. But though he won a prestigious award, Noble said has to stay hungry for self-improvement, adding he’s already thinking about next year.

“I feel like there’s no way I can honestly say that I’m where I could be as a teacher,” he said. “I have room to grow.”