In 2014, TheBestSchools.org established the annual Escalante-Gradillas Prize for Best in Education. Winners of the prize exemplify the commitment to learning, discipline, character-building, and high expectations that characterized East L.A.’s Garfield High School when Jaime Escalante taught there and Henry Gradillas was its principal.
To celebrate that legacy of academic excellence, we award a yearly $10,000 prize to one outstanding K–12 teacher or school administrator, and also a $10,000 grant to the winner’s school or district.
Winners of the Escalante-Gradillas Prize for Best in Education
2017 José Espinoza (Superintendent, Socorro Independent School District, El Paso Texas)
2016 Anthony Yom (Teacher, Abraham Lincoln High School, Los Angeles, California)
2015 Lisa Kaplan (Principal, Andrew Jackson School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
2014 Founding recipients Fabiola Escalante (wife of the late Jaime Escalante), Henry Gradillas, and Angelo Villavicencio (close colleague of Escalante).
Who is eligible in 2018?
Because teachers and school administrators have distinct roles, we alternate years between the two. For 2018, the Escalante–Gradillas Prize will go to a U.S.-based classroom teacher, defined as an educator who teaches primary or secondary school students (grades K–12) in a classroom environment.
Whom should you nominate?
For the 2018 Best in Education prize we’re looking for a teacher who is having a huge, positive impact on students, making a real difference not just for the present but also for the rest of their lives.
In keeping with the educational philosophies and spirit of prize namesakes Jaime Escalante and Henry Gradillas, the best candidates will most strongly demonstrate these characteristics:
- Makes the most of limited resources or finds ways to gain more (Does more with less)
- Attains remarkable, documented increases in student performance (Raises academic achievement)
- Nurtures a love for education in others (Inspires lifelong learners)
- Overcomes obstacles to education in innovative ways (Rises to all challenges)
- Models a desire to “go to the next level” (Exhibits ganas )
Challenges a nominee must overcome may vary. Perhaps your nominee faces a community racked with poverty, or a tornado or earthquake devastated the school’s neighborhood. Perhaps local drug problems endanger students’ well-being. Perhaps a history of mediocrity, complacency, or a lack of discipline plagues the district. Your community’s particular challenges are as unique as the teachers and educators who rise to face them.
The focus of this prize is on academics, not sports, band, or any other extracurricular activity. This is not to deny the value of extracurricular activity. But success in extracurricular activity must, in our view, be tied to success in curricular activity, that is, academics.
Read more about the prize after the form…
Nominate a U.S. K–12 classroom teacher here…
Nominations close Sat., March 31, 2018. A teacher defined as an educator who teaches primary or secondary school students (grades K–12) in a classroom environment.
(EXCLUSIONS: Past first-place winners are ineligible for nomination. Relatives of employees of TheBestSchools.org and its related companies, OR relatives, employees, or coworkers of the Prize Panel members, are are also ineligible.)
I strongly believe that the role of principal gave me the opportunity to make the most significant difference in promoting student academic achievement, as well as promoting student belief in self-worth, a can-do-it attitude, and that there is no limit to what can be achieved. — Henry Gradillas
How will the winner be judged?
We have a select group of panelists with deep experience in both education and administration, including a founding prize recipient—Henry Gradillas himself. In addition, we have both a past winner of the prize and one of Jaime Escalante’s former AP Calculus students.
Recommend a school administrator for the $20K #BestInEducation award today!Nominations for the prize close Sat., March 31, 2018. Once all preliminary documents are received, TheBestSchools.org will compile a shortlist. At that point, we’ll ask for supporting materials to assist in our decision (such as additional documentation, news stories, video, and so on). All candidate materials must be received by Tues., July 31, 2018. A panel of judges will then evaluate these materials and announce the winner in late September 2018.
Escalante-Gradillas Prize 2018 Milestones and Deadlines (dates subject to change)
- Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 – Sat., March 31, 2018 — Nomination period
- Early April — All nominees and nominators contacted
- Mid-April — Candidate process open
- Tues., July 31 — Multimedia promotional piece, survey, and recommendation letters due (UPDATED)
- Early September — Finalists announced
- Late September — Winners announced
There can be only one $20,000 winner, but there are no losers!
We’re excited to find out what your classroom teachers are up to. Even if your nominee doesn’t win this year, we may feature your candidate’s story in a future article.
For more information about the educators who inspired this prize, check out our article about Jaime Escalante and our exclusive interview with Henry Gradillas. While you’re at it, be sure to read our interview with standout teacher and protégé of Jaime Escalante, Angelo Villavicencio.
If you’re a blogger or in the media, you may want to access our media files page for access to prize-related button, badge, and banner images.