State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang named Topher Kandik, a high-performing English language arts teacher at The SEED School of Washington, DC, the 2016 District of Columbia Teacher of the Year.
Contact: Jessie Harteis (202) 344-9805; Jessie.Harteis@dc.gov
State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang named Topher Kandik, a high-performing English language arts teacher at The SEED School of Washington, DC, the 2016 District of Columbia Teacher of the Year in a surprise announcement today at the Ward 7 public charter school.
“Those who know Mr. Kandik’s teaching practice refer to him as transformative, endlessly creative, and deeply engaged,” Superintendent Kang said as she addressed Kandik and his students. “All these reasons and more are why we are here today to recognize Mr. Kandik for being such an outstanding teacher. So, I hope you will all join us in congratulating your teacher, Mr. Topher Kandik, for becoming the 2016 District of Columbia Teacher of the Year.”
As the 2016 DC Teacher of the Year, Kandik received a cash prize of $7,500 and is entered into the National Teacher of the Year competition.
A National Board Certified teacher, Kandik has served his entire nine years as an educator at SEED DC, where he is known for engaging students with thoughtful lessons that are reinforced through a variety of experiential learning experiences that feature guest speakers and field trips.
The District of Columbia Teacher of the Year Program is administered annually by OSSE and recognizes pre-K through grade 12 teachers who demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to student achievement. Nominations are accepted citywide and the winner is selected by a panel of education leaders through an extensive application process including interviews, classroom observation, a formal application, and a comprehensive essay.
“What makes Mr. Kandik's classroom special isn't just that his students score above average on state assessments,” said SEED DC Head of School Adrian Manuel. “It's that his students develop a real joy for learning and intellectual engagement that will help them become not just strong students, but intelligent and engaged adults."
A former fundraiser in the DC arts community, Kandik decided to become a teacher when he saw the transformative effect the arts can have on students while volunteering in an after school program that focused on writing plays. In his application for DC Teacher of the Year, Kandik shares the story of a student in the program who had his play produced on stage.
“He said he was so proud of it and what an effect it had on him. I couldn’t believe it,” said Kandik who served as a mentor for the student. “I made the decision right then and there that I was going to dedicate myself to creating similar experiences for students in DC.”
Kandik soon enrolled in a program at the George Washington University that trained educators to teach literacy skills to students living and learning in an urban environment.
“To the extent that this program has helped me re-imagine the classroom experience, my greatest accomplishments have sprung from the idea that when engaged in non-traditional ways, students will want to contribute and learn,” Kandik said in his application. “I have tried to empower students to be their own teachers.”
A 2013 recipient of the Mayor’s Arts Award, District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities Teacher of the Year, Kandik created the SEED African American Read-In, an annual open mic celebration in conjunction with an invited guest writer. Kandik also co-founded DC Miscellanea, a youth writing organization that provides DC area youth an opportunity to build community through writing projects focused on art and aesthetic experiences.
“Topher is a master at kindling students’ passion for ideas and self-expression, and he lights up when discussing his students,” wrote Dan Brown, co-director of Educators Rising, an organization that works with prospective teachers beginning in high to develop a core of highly skilled educators, in his support of Kandik’s application. “Topher Kandik exemplifies the commitment, skill, shrewdness, and of cultural competence of the best of the teaching profession.”
More information about The SEED School of Washington, D.C. is available at www.seedschooldc.org/home.