RICHMOND, Va. - Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Wednesday that the Virginia Department of Education is accepting nominations for the Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity.
The new award program - named in honor of a pioneering 19th-century African American educator - recognizes individuals and organizations making significant contributions to the advancement of equity in education for students in Virginia.
The Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity will honor individuals and organizations demonstrating a sustained commitment to eliminating inequities or remedying the effects of inequities in education. This includes — but is not limited to — efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps; eliminate disproportionality in school discipline, graduation and dropout rates; expand access to gifted education and advanced programs; and improve supports and outcomes for English learners.
The four award categories are as follows:
- Educator (teacher, paraprofessional, specialist, etc.)
- School Leader (principal, vice principal, superintendent, central office staff, etc.)
- Policy Maker (legislator, school board member, elected or appointed official)
- Organization, Stakeholder Group, or School or Division Team (e.g., grade-level team, professional learning community, educational support organization, out-of-school time provider, advocacy organization, etc.)
Mary Peake was a Norfolk native who secretly taught enslaved persons and free African Americans to read when doing so was prohibited by Virginia law. In 1861, Peake began a school near Fort Monroe for the children of formerly enslaved persons. The tree under which she taught — known as the Emancipation Oak — still stands on the campus of Hampton University.
"Our commitment to ensuring that Virginia's public education system is one that provides equitable educational opportunities to all students is unwavering,” Lane said. “The Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity recognizes the Virginia educators, policy makers, advocacy groups and stakeholder organizations whose efforts at the local and state levels have established equity as a core value of the commonwealth’s public education system.”
Nominations for the Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity must be submitted by May 1. Winners will be announced and honored in July at the third annual Virginia is for ALL Learners Education Equity Summer Institute in Richmond. Details on the nominating process and award criteria are available on the Virginia is for Learners website or you can click here to be taken to the nomination page.