(Washington, DC) – Kelly Harper, a District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) educator, was recognized for excellence by The Washington Post, and received the prestigious Teacher of the Year Award for her service. In October, Mayor Muriel Bowser recognized Harper with the District of Columbia’s 2019 Teacher of the Year Award, and she is a finalist for National Teacher of the Year.
“In classrooms across DCPS, I have seen our teachers’ tireless efforts to ensure our students have what they need to be successful in college, career, and life,” said DCPS Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “When I visited Kelly Harper’s classroom, I saw her students engaged in rigorous and joyful learning experiences that are preparing them for college and their future careers. Congratulations to Ms. Harper, who embodies our commitment to excellence and makes us all proud to be educators.”
The 35 Washington metropolitan area educators recognized as finalists for this honor from The Washington Post were chosen by their school systems for their exceptional work and unwavering commitment to students in the Washington area. Maisha Riddlesprigger, principal of Ketcham Elementary School, was a finalist for the Principal of the Year Award. See the full list of finalists here.
Harper, a third grade teacher at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Ward 6 and native Washingtonian, is in her seventh year as an educator and her fourth year with DCPS. She inspires her students through social justice projects, and has also served as a leader at the school and district levels. Harper engages students in culturally relevant lessons and uses the DC area as an extension of the classroom, guiding students in advocacy projects and meeting with members of Congress in the U.S. Capitol Building.
“In a political climate where adults too often believe socioeconomic status and race are insurmountable barriers that mean students in marginalized groups cannot achieve, Ms. Harper is an example of a practitioner who proves them wrong,” said Amidon-Bowen Principal TaMikka Sykes. “Students in her class consistently exceed expected growth academically, socially, and emotionally. I have never encountered an educator who has done more to motivate and empower students in a way that will likely change the trajectory of their lives.”
Harper has served as a DCPS Capital Commitment Fellow, member of the 2016-2017 DCPS Chancellor’s Teachers’ Cabinet, and a 2014 TeachPlus DC Federal Policy Fellow. She has served as a teacher-coach for grades 3-5 reading teachers at Amidon-Bowen, professional development trainer for teachers across DCPS for English language arts (ELA), and written ELA curriculum for DCPS. She currently is on her school’s Flamboyan Foundation Family Engagement Leadership Team and is a facilitator for DCPS’ Family Engagement Collaborative.
In January, Harper was selected as one of four finalists for the 2019 National Teacher of the Year. The last time a DC teacher was in the running for the national honor was in 2005.
The Washington Post Educational Foundation has long honored the best educators in the Washington region. Since 1983, the Teacher of the Year Award, formerly known as the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Awards, has recognized a pre-kindergarten-12th grade teacher who ensures students receive a high-quality education through first-class and creative instruction.