- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

A D.C. public school teacher tomorrow will be named the National Teacher of the Year for the first time in the city’s history.

Jason Kamras, a math teacher at Sousa Middle School in Southeast, will receive the 2005 award from President Bush at a White House ceremony tomorrow.

Mr. Kamras, 31, said the greatest social injustice facing the United States is the limited access poor students have to well-funded, high-quality schools.

“My intense desire to see my school excel comes not only from an unwavering belief that all students deserve an excellent education, but also the unique role Sousa played in the civil rights movement,” Mr. Kamras said.

Bolling v. Sharpe, the 1954 Supreme Court case that paved the way for the desegregation of all D.C. public schools, arose from a challenge to segregation at Sousa.

Mr. Kamras is the 55th National Teacher of the Year and the first to represent the District, program officials said. He will begin a year as a full-time spokesman for education June 1.

George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers’ Union, said he was happy that Mr. Kamras’ commitment to education has been recognized.

“We’re very proud of Jason,” Mr. Parker said. “This is an indication of the quality of teachers we have in the D.C. public schools. … We have outstanding teachers.”

The National Teacher of the Year Program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers that focuses public attention on teaching excellence.

A committee of representatives from 14 national education organizations chooses the National Teacher of the Year from among the State Teachers of the Year.

It is the oldest and most prestigious awards program for teachers. The award is sponsored by Scholastic Inc.

The 2005 State Teachers of the Year also will be recognized during the White House ceremony.

Mr. Kamras came to Sousa in the fall of 1996 and taught sixth-grade math. After three years at Sousa, he left to pursue a master’s degree in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

He returned to Sousa in 2000, where he taught social studies for two years. In 2002-2003, he returned to teaching math, at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels.

During his eight years at Sousa, Mr. Kamras has worked to raise math achievement. He successfully lobbied his principal to double the instructional time allotted for the subject and redesigned the math curriculum to emphasize the increasing use of technology, meeting all learning styles and putting instruction into a real-world context.

The curricular changes, piloted with his own students in 2002, helped the percentage of students scoring “below basic” on the Stanford 9 standardized test to fall from about 80 percent to 40 percent in one year.

His students also have met the school district’s math average yearly progress target every year since the No Child Left Behind legislation was implemented.

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