Washington, D.C. Teacher 'Honored'
KIPP Teacher Receives $5,000 Award for Work in Southeast D.C.
Washington, D.C. - May 1, 2019
Michael Gilchrist, a middle school math teacher at KIPP AIM Academy in Washington, DC, has been given the prestigious national Honored teaching award for May. As part of his honor, Gilchrist received a $5,000 cash award and a $1,000 DonorsChoose.org gift card, and was profiled by author and Brennan Center for Justice senior fellow Theodore R. Johnson.
When Michael Gilchrist asks his class, “Who wants to tell me their value?” every hand in the class shoots into the sky. He’s referring to the answer of the equation at hand, but the students know that Gilchrist is talking about their own worth as well. The special connection that Gilchrist, one of the 2% of teachers nationwide who are black men, shares with his students is due in large part to his own upbringing in one of the tougher sections of Suffolk, Virginia. “I knew I wanted to teach students whose backgrounds look a lot like mine,” he says. “I’m able to build relationships with them and their parents because our stories are the same.”
Gilchrist understands that a student’s incomplete homework or frustration in class sometimes has less to do with what’s happening in the classroom than what’s happening outside of it, and he chose to teach middle school because he believes it’s a crucial time in these students’ lives.
In his classroom, Gilchrist works to instill in his students a sense of accountability. They are all aware of the stereotypes about black kids from Southeast D.C. Some believe these students lack commitment to education or the discipline and work ethic to excel in math. But Gilchrist and his students know better.
Gilchrist was nominated for the award by three different students; one of whom, Nylah Newkirk, says, “His lessons help us to be great in math and in life. Some people don’t think we can be either one, but he does.”
Gilchrist teaches his students not only to take responsibility for themselves, but for their community as well: “If a student gets a problem wrong, another student reteaches the concept. I want each of them to be accountable for what their peers know.” Gilchrist says. “They should think, ‘If I get it, I want everybody else to get it, too.’”
Gilchrist’s students have some of the highest math scores in the school’s network. But what Gilchrist teaches his students extends far beyond any standardized test: “When you leave my classroom, I still need you to be great out there. I want you to carry what you learn in here everywhere,” he says. “It’s not just a question of whether you can do a fraction – but being able to take a value that you learned in here and take it to other classrooms and take it home.”
Read the full story of Michael Gilchrist and the three students who nominated him at www.honored.org/honoree/michael-gilchrist.
Honored is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping great teachers in the classroom and to inspiring a new generation of talent to pursue teaching. Each month, Honored shines a spotlight on a teacher who has changed the life of a single student. The Honoree receives a $5,000 cash award, and Honored partners with a world-class writer to tell their story. Honorees are selected from K-12 teachers of all subjects at public, private and charter schools across the country. Honored’s National Advisory Board includes luminaries such as the internationally best-selling author Michael Lewis, DonorsChoose.org founder Charles Best, Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp, and FEED cofounder Lauren Bush Lauren.
For more information about Honored, visit honored.org. For regular updates on Honored and our monthly Honorees, follow and like us on facebook.com/Honored.org, twitter.com/honored and instagram.com/honored_org.
Honored Press ContactKatherine Boone