By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Carla McCall, an eighth-grade mathematics teacher at Crawford W. Long Middle School, is among 10 national finalists for the prestigious 2016 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice.
Designed to shine a spotlight on great teachers across the country, the Fishman Prize honors extraordinary teachers working in high-need public schools who are responsible for some of the best instruction happening in America’s classrooms.
This year’s finalists – who range from new teachers to those with decades of experience – hail from eight states and the nation’s capital, and teach a variety of subject areas, such as science, health and media literacy.
In May, four finalists will be named, with each receiving $25,000 and the opportunity to attend a special summer residency with The New Teacher Project, which sponsors the award. As a finalist, McCall has been invited to an in-person interview this weekend, April 15-17, with an expert panel of judges at TNTP, based in New York City.
An Atlanta Public Schools teacher since 2006, McCall said she is honored to be among this year’s finalists.
“Being a 2015-2016 Fishman finalist is a spectacular honor in so many ways,” said McCall, who was selected among 800 applicants nationwide. “Not only am I honored to be able to represent myself, but I represent each wonderful developing mind in my class.”
“I am privileged to serve students who have been identified as at risk,” she added. “These students are usually the ones who are quick to ‘throw in the towel,’ and in many cases, choose not to believe in themselves. Being a Fishman finalist now affords me the opportunity to display how dedication, devotion, discipline, and determination allows you to get closer to dreams and goals. Students see first-hand that hard work does pay off. I constantly remind myself and my students that although you may not receive instant gratification, hard work does not go unnoticed. The ongoing development of my students as individuals and as learners is a daily mission that inspires me to be the best educator that I can be.”
TNTP describes McCall as an extraordinary teacher who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
“When you walk into her classroom, you know it’s special: Students are working nonstop, they’re fully engaged in rigorous content, and they’re having fun doing it,” according to the organization’s website. “Though only half of her students come in on grade level, Carla moves that needle to 70 percent by the end of the year. In addition to her teaching duties, she has taken on numerous leadership positions in school, including grade chair and department chair. Her assistant principal says the key to her success is that she ‘takes time to get to know each of the students that she serves, personally and academically.’”