In his third year at Friendship Collegiate Academy, Daniel Moses is Friendship Public Charter Schools' 2012 Teacher of the Year.
Moses, 32, bested 10 of his colleagues for the honor. Moses, who now teaches history, said he didn't expect to win.
"I was confident I would do well because I taught a really good lesson. But I didn't expect necessarily to win," said Moses. "It was a huge surprise, especially for my parents. The kids are really excited. They made me throw them a pizza party."
"I was highly motivated before but this has given me greater impetus," he said. "It's been nose to the grindstone. My students have been studying AP World History."
Moses taught general education for two years and this is his first year teaching history, said the Illinois native who followed his wife here from Chicago.
His recipe for being an exceptional teacher?
"What's most important is consistency, understanding, rigor, and maintaining those standards every day. I let my students know you will do this because I love you and it's good for you," he said.
Moses learned the good news at a sumptuous, black-tie awards ceremony held recently at the JW Marriott Hotel in Northwest. More than 800 staff members from the school attended the event where the friendly rivalry and school spirit energized what can sometimes be rather staid and restrained.
As each teacher of the year nominee was presented to their peers, the crowd broke into raucous cheers, with many standing up and yelling their support of the honorees for their accomplishments. Participants enjoyed video presentations of principals, fellow teachers, parents and students who shared the reasons why the nominees are exceptional teachers.
Several times during the program, faculty and staff from individual schools jumped up to bellow school cheers.
TV host Roland Martin returned to emcee the event.
"Any man who comes up, I suggest you give your wife a shout out so there won't be any problems," he joked.
Event Chairman W. Ed Walter was effusive in his praise.
"This has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations," he said of the event which is in its fifth year. "We celebrate the best teachers and this confers on them the extra value they have to our organization. They exhibit patience, enthusiasm, courage, and showmanship. Teachers provide a special reward by their success. You've made ... an impact on our children's future.
"I congratulate all the nominees. You're the best of the best."
Friendship is the largest public charter school in the Washington, D.C. area. Friendship is on 11 campuses in the District and Baltimore in partnership with District of Columbia Public Schools and Baltimore City Public School. At present, Friendship, which was started in 1998, serves about 8,000 students from pre-K to 12th grade.
Friendship Collegiate Academy is the charter school's flagship school in Northeast. It has an 85 percent graduation rate and 100 percent of the graduating class is accepted to college.
Five students have been chosen as Gates Millennium Scholars which means that they are awarded $500,000 to finance their educations with what Gates officials call "a good-through-graduation" scholarship. The money will support the students' academic endeavors for however long they pursue their educations at the college or university of their choice.
The program, established in 1999, is financed by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To date, more than 16,000 students have received Gates Millennium scholarships and attend more than 1,500 schools, including Ivy League colleges, flagship state universities, United Negro College Fund member institutions and other institutions serving minorities.
A selection committee chose the nominees after monitoring them in the classroom and using other criteria. They were: Moses; Vitavia McWhite, Friendship Academy at Cherry Hill; Teriyana Fields, Woodridge Elementary and Middle School; Nate' Wheeler, Friendship Preparatory Academy at Calverton; Leyla Aboulhosn, Friendship Chamberlain Elementary; Lindsey Walker, Academies at Anacostia; Keisha Lewis, Friendship South East Elementary Academy; Gregory Dohmnann, Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy; Ivy Burklew-Ozinal, Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology; Doris Coleman, Friendship Academy of Science and Technology; and Derrick Gooding, Blow Pierce Junior Academy.
Moses won $15,000 as Teacher of the Year, while each nominee took home $5,000. Friendship paid the taxes on the awards.
Friendship Chairman Don Hense congratulated everyone associated with the school for the success the charter school enjoys.
"Friendship was built on the notion that we should be a community school," he said. "Education, housing and jobs are needed to build a strong community. Our charter schools were different. We extend the type of help families and students need. Some of you were here in 1998 when we were trying to put furniture together. We are grateful for all the workers who helped."
Hense said the awards were a great way for school officials to show their appreciation for the teachers.
"This is the time we come together to celebrate the people who are the glue of the organization. We appreciate what you do and your work with the children," he said.