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
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 2017?
Because teachers and school administrators have distinct roles, we alternate years between the two. For 2017, the Escalante–Gradillas Prize will go to a U.S.-based school administrator, defined as an educator associated with a primary or secondary school (grades K–12) whose main job description is something other than classroom teaching.
- principal or assistant principal
- school counselor
- curriculum designer
Whom should you nominate?
For the 2017 Best in Education prize we’re looking for a school administrator 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 and teacher 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.
Nominations for the 2017 Escalante–Gradillas Prize are now closed.
Thank you for all your nominations!
Nominations for an outstanding educator for the 2018 Prize will open here later this year.
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 Fri., March 31, 2017. 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 Mon., July 31, 2017. A panel of judges will then evaluate these materials and announce the winner in early October 2017.
Escalante-Gradillas Prize 2017 Milestones and Deadlines
- Mon., Oct. 24, 2016 – Fri., March 31 — Nomination period
- Tues., April 4 – Fri., April 7 — All nominees and nominators contacted
- Mon., April 10 – Mon., July 31 — Candidate process open
- Mon., July 31 — Multimedia promotional piece, survey, and recommendation letters due (UPDATED)
- Thurs., Sept. 14 — Finalists announced
- Thurs., Oct. 5 — Winners announced
There can be only one $20,000 winner, but there are no losers!
We’re excited to find out what your school administrators 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.