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2016 Application: Opens October 14th

Sontag Prize in Urban Education

Lawrence Public Schools is looking for America’s Outstanding Urban Educators.

The Sontag Prize in Urban Education recognizes outstanding teaching in Mathematics, English Language Arts (ELA) and other disciplines. Educators chosen for the Sontag Prize will lead classes as part of the LPS Acceleration Academy, a program designed to provide targeted small group support for students.  

Any educator from within the city or across the country is eligible to apply for the Sontag Prize. In addition to an honorarium, new Sontag Prize awardees will participate in a weekend of professional development at Harvard University February 14th and 15th. The opportunity provides motivated and successful educators the chance to share best practices with their fellow awardees. Most importantly, this award recognizes excellence in teaching and provides students with an extra week of high-quality instruction.

*This program is generously supported by the Lynch Foundation.

Harvard Professional Development Weekend for all new Sontag Prize recipients: Saturday, February 13th - Sunday, February 14th
Acceleration Academy 1 (ELA Focus): Monday, February 15th - Friday, February 19th
Acceleration Academy 2 (Math Focus): Monday, April 18th - Friday, April 22th

Awardees will spend one week teaching in Lawrence, where they will:

  • Share best practices with colleagues
  • Participate in learning opportunities with Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Business School faculty
  • Lead LPS Acceleration Academy classes to demonstrate effective instruction with students.

New Sontag Prize recipients will receive the following:

  • $3,000 honorarium
  • National award presented at a recognition ceremony
  • Kick-off reception
  • Round trip airfare and lodging (if not a resident of Massachusetts or nearby state)

How to Apply

Please note: You must indicate your preference for either the February or April Academy in your application.

February Acceleration Academy - ELA Focus

February Sontag Awards will be granted to: English Language Arts, Elementary, ESL, Special Education, and Specials Teachers (Music, Art, Theater, Dance, Technology, and Physical Education).

April Acceleration Academy - Math Focus

April Sontag Awards will be granted to: Math, Science, Elementary, ESL, Special Education, and Specials Teachers (Music, Art, Theater, Dance, Technology, and Physical Education). 


Experience from Past Participants

Jenna Sideri - Lawrence, MA (Elementary)

One (of the many) amazing things about being involved in Sontag was spending time with other teachers from different schools. We shared ideas, best practices and horrible failures. I loved growing as an educator through the experiences of people I came to respect so much.

I walked away on a cloud after the weekend of PD. It is rare that we get so much time to develop in our attitudes toward our profession. The speakers were not only enlightening, but also inspiring. To choose Harvard Business professors and world renowned brain surgeons as our leaders for the weekend proved that Sontag hold education in the highest esteem.”

Thomas Hakim - Indianapolis, IN (middle school math teacher)

I have valued so much the ability and learn from other amazing educators, while also working with students of Lawrence that I know I can make significant progress with, even though I onl work with them for a single, concentrated week. When I am around other high-perofrming educators, I am energized to figure out the very best ways to help the students make huge gains in a short period of time. It's an honor and humbling to be recognized among other teachers that I have so much respect for, and a joy to bring my own best practices to students that truly are eager to benefit from them."

Sarah Bouchard - Lawrence, MA (middle school science teacher)

Working over February or April vacation may initially seem like a terrible idea. After all, who wants to give up their hard-earned vacation? Here's the truth though: for me, that week was the most meaningful of my entire teaching career. From the weekend PD to the actual teaching experience, the entire process reaffirmed my love of education and what it means to be a teacher. It was so wonderful to get the chance to meet with like-minded educators who recognize that staying on the forefront of educational research and teaching methods is not a chore but rather a responsibility and honor; teachers like me who realize that educating is not simply about imparting knowledge but also about growing and developing yourself and exploring what it means to educate meaningfully."



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