Chantrise Sims-Holliman, an 8th-9th grade English teacher at Westlake High School in South Fulton, is one of only six teachers nationwide who have been named finalists for the 2015 Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice, a $25,000 award recognizing the nation’s most effective teachers working in high-poverty public schools. As a finalist, Ms. Sims-Holliman will receive $1,000 from TNTP, the nonprofit organization that offers the award. Four other teachers were also announced as winners today.
The Fishman Prize is extremely selective, with over 5,000 teachers nominated this year and nearly 800 submitting applications from 46 states and Washington, DC. A small number of applicants were selected to submit teaching videos and letters of reference, and to participate in unannounced classroom observations conducted by TNTP. Ten finalists were selected for in-person interviews with an expert panel of judges in New York City before four were ultimately named the winners.
Ms. Sims-Holliman entered the classroom 10 years ago from a career in business and has not looked back. A pillar at Westlake High School, she is known for her tenacious spirit and her strong rapport with students. Her classroom atmosphere is electrifying as students eagerly engage in discussion on the literary components of biographical texts. She eloquently weaves in historical context while tying in modern day comparisons, leaving students bursting with ideas to share and anxious to hear more. As a result, Ms. Sims-Holliman’s students achieve amazing classroom results. On the 2013-2014 state exam, 100 percent of her English students passed with 85 percent exceeding expectations, far exceeding the Georgia state averages.
This is the fourth year for the Fishman Prize. It is named for Shira Fishman Printup, a current DC Public Schools (DCPS) math teacher who was named the 2011 DCPS Teacher of the Year and received a 2011 Milken Educator Award. She left a career in engineering to become a teacher through TNTP’s highly selective DC Teaching Fellows program in 2004 and has been teaching ever since.
To learn more about the Fishman Prize and this year’s winners, visit TNTP.org/FishmanPrize.