Hoboken Middle School teacher honored
ASCD Selects Hoboken, NJ, Middle School Teacher as 2008 Outstanding Young Educator
Award winner raises awareness of social justice issues and teaches students to be leaders of change
Deirdra Grode, a 7th and 8th grade social studies and language arts teacher at Hoboken Charter School in Hoboken, N.J., is the winner of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (ASCD) 2008 Outstanding Young Educator Award (OYEA). ASCD honored Grode on March 15, 2008 at its Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in New Orleans, La.
Grode says she expects her students to “view the world with critical minds and be leaders of positive change in their communities.” To help her students accomplish this, she regularly exposes them to different perspectives and provides them with innovative service learning and character education opportunities. Grode also thoughtfully designs her curriculum to reflect the current world and responds to the needs and interests of each class, all while helping her students meet and exceed state standards.
For example, when most middle school students learn about slavery, they focus on its existence in colonial America and the role it played in the Civil War. Grode addresses those aspects of slavery with her students, but she also has them examine strategies of change used by abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth to explore how they can become agents of change themselves. Her students then research examples of contemporary slavery—from child soldiers in the Burmese Army to agricultural workers in the United States who receive no pay for their work—and create informational brochures to educate the community about slavery’s existence today and how it can be stopped.
ASCD Executive Director Gene Carter recognized Grode for promoting tolerance, raising her students’ awareness of social justice issues, and teaching them to be leaders of change in their communities. In doing so, “she exemplifies what it means to teach the whole child,” said Carter.
Alfredo Huereca, principal of the elementary and middle school grade levels at Hoboken Charter School, nominated Grode for the award and described how her leadership extends well beyond the walls of her classroom. She mentors staff, leads professional development sessions, acts as a liaison between other teachers and the school’s administration, and coordinates testing and school scheduling. She also wrote the school’s 5th–8th grade social studies and language arts curriculum and worked on its charter renewal and annual report.
ASCD, a nonprofit, international education organization, created OYEA in 2002 to recognize creative and committed teachers and administrators under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the lives of children. A panel of diverse education professionals selected Grode as the 2008 OYEA winner from a large pool of educators nominated by ASCD members. Grode will receive a $10,000 cash award and an ASCD Institutional membership for her school.
The other finalists for the award were Pamela Bell, former principal of Adams Elementary School in Richmond, Va.; Julie Kasper, an English teacher at Catalina Magnet High School in Tucson, Ariz.; and Vincent Riveroll, founding director of Gompers Charter Middle School in San Diego, Calif.
Nominations are currently being accepted for next year’s award. Learn more about OYEA.