Dec 3, 2020 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy


Every year – at the end of every year, we canvas the literature and the publications and presentations and books to try to find 10 outstanding individuals who have made exceptional contributions to education.  This year as been a bit different. 

Since March, the world of education has been thrown into chaos. Teachers have had to figure out how to teach online. Special Education directors have been tasked with the delivery of face to face services. OT, PT, SLP and other professionals have faced the gargantuan task of providing online what was previously provided in person.

To make matters worse, many teachers were asked to utilize technology with which they were not familiar. Zoom, Top Hat, and various other communication and monitoring devices had to be very quickly learned resulting in a massive amount of stress to an already stressful profession.

Parents who were teachers during the day were faced with having to teach their own children while teaching other children.

Math, science and other disciplines had to re-adjust and re-tool almost overnight- and they are still adjusting and attempting to cope.

In the meantime, some administrators sent the message that ” well , this is the new normal” as some parents had to cope with the fact that their children had contracted COVID-19.

Switching gears, at the same time health professionals- nurses, physicians, X-ray technologists, pharmacists, E.R. specialists and I.C.U. personnel had to cope with a flood of patients- some of which may have been infected with COVID-19 and some of which had mononucleosis, the flu, broken arms, sprained ankles, pulled tendons and the vast array of medical conditions which are out there.

Therefore, this year – we have to simply name and acknowledge two groups of people who have given “above and beyond ” the call of duty – and award them some recognition.

1) Teachers—from kindergarten thru high school and yes even into colleges and universities. Teachers have had to endure a massive amount of stress and to paraphrase Winston Churchill ” never in the course of human events, have so much been asked of some many to help and educate so many children, adolescents and adults.

2) The Medical Field–from hospitals to clinics to public health centers-Nurses, physicians, mental health workers, X-ray technologists, pharmacists, EMT’s ( yes they who have transported people to and from their homes to hospitals and sometimes back again ),OT’s , PT’s  and all of those employed in some aspect of health care- they all need to be recognized.

I apologize for any group that I may have missed.

May we all recognize these individuals who this past year- have given so much- for so many.

Previous Upton Sinclair Award Winners:

2005: Gerald Bracey, Nicholas Colangelo, Elaine Garan, Martin Haberman, Jonathan Kozol, Peter and Pam Wright, Reid Lyon;

2006: John Stossel, Jan and Bob Davidson, Peyton Wolcott, Fred Baughman, M.D., Will Fitzhugh, Joel Turtel, Bernard Gassaway, Ned Davis, Her Highness Sheikah Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, “All the Children of the World”;

2007: Sean Hannity, Don Meyer, Ron Clark, Frank Wang, Harry and Rosemary Wong, Tracey McGrady, Dr. Eldo W. Bergman, Queen Rania of Jordan, Celeste Roseberry-McKibbin, Ph.D., G. Gbaanador, MD, FACS, FICS, Bill Cecil,  Here’s to the Upton School Principals of America;

2008: Harold V. House, Kathleen Chamberlain, Dee Alpert, Kevin Donnelly, Dona Matthews, Ph.D., Aisha Ussery, Collin Hannaford, Andrew Rotherham, Jim Zellmer., JoAnn Collins;

2009: E.D. Hirsch, Jay Mathews, John Goodlad, Billy Reagan, Geoffrey Canada, Fredrick Hess, Jay Hartling;

2010: Tom Watkins, Marlena Vaughn, Susan Ohanian, Dr. Marion Blank, Neal McCluskey, Ernest Boyer (Posthumously), Mr. Pierre Fignole, Chris Woodhead, Diane Ravitch, Ph.D.

2011: C. M. Rubin, Tavis Smiley, Joe Nathan, Ann Thompson, James Webb, Kiernan Egan, Professor Hani Q. Khoury

2012: Sandy Hook Elementary School of Newtown, CT , individuals, who gave their lives for their pupils and in the service of education individuals, who gave their lives for their pupils and in the service of education. First responders for their courage and on-going assistance in the little town where Sandy Hook Elementary School of Newtown, CT , took a worldwide human race to its knees. Bless Be the Tie That Binds Our Hearts.

2013: Donna Garner, William Korach, Alan Singer, Bror Saxberg, Rick Hess, Paul Horton, Antoinette Tuff, Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D., Dr. Valerie Hill-Jackson

2014: Terry Grier, Paul E. Peterson, First Lady Barbara Bush, Yong Zhao, Christopher Arnold and Tracey Baker, Karen Nave, James Webb, Alice Linahan, Robert Nasson

2015: Dr. Kevin Donnelly, Robert Pondiscio, George Leef, Monty Neill, Bob Schaeffer, Lisa Guisbond, David Mirabella, Michael Petrilli, Peter Greene, Jennifer Waddell, PhD, Gus Jacob, Michael Harris, Lynn Wade, Nicholas D. Hartlep, Alan Hooker

2016: Ben Carson, Elie Wiesel, Jennifer Buckingham, Deborah Confredo, Dr Hani Q. Khoury, Professor Theodore Zeldin, Anna Ulrich, Stephen Colbert, The Unknown Teacher.

2017: Carol J. Carter, Mike Hess, Marion Brady, Joan Freeman, Scholastic Books, The International Literacy Association, The Ayn Rand Institute, The American Enterprise Institute, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Lastly, we need to recognize those teachers and students who have lost their lives due to violence over the past few years.

2018: Delia Stafford, Monty McNeil, Wilfrey McClay, Bruce Urhmacher, Jane Robbins, Stan Lee (posthumously), James Webb (posthumously), Maurice Fisher (posthumously)

2019: Heather Mac Donald, Don Winn, Jane Robbins, Larry Lipsitz, Dr. Jay W. Friedman, Ugur Sak, Glen Taylor

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