2016 Rather Prize Calls on Innovators to Help Improve Texas Education
The creators of the Rather Prize are looking for the next innovator to help improve education in the state of Texas for 2016. They are looking for teachers, administrators, and students throughout the state to show their ideas and initiatives.
The Rather Prize honors a student or educator for presenting the best idea and provides them the means to make this idea come to life.
Martin Rather spoke of the vision he and his grandfather (Dan Rather) had when making this prize.
“The Rather Prize came about when my grandfather and I spoke about how we can give back to a state that has given each of us so much. We had recently read a report (this was back in early 2015) [that] noted Texas was near the bottom in education rankings- at the time in 38th place. We both know that Texas deserves better than this, so we saw an opening in terms of highlighting great ideas from students, teachers and administrators,” Rather said.
Last year’s recipient, Dr. Sanford Jeames, from Eastside Memorial High in Austin, received the Rather Prize for his STEP up challenge, or the student training enrichment program. The main goals are teaching students through mentors, leadership in service, and providing pathways to college.
The original school, named Johnston High, had been closed down due to the state calling the institution academically unacceptable, according to the Rather Prize report. In 2008, the school reopened at Eastside Memorial High.
Even after reopening, the school continued to deal with poor graduation rates, low attendance, and bad test scores, said the Rather Prize report. One of the school administrators said the state's mandating removed key leadership from the original school and eventually caused the closure.
In the following years, the school did a complete turn around, and Dr. Sanford helped with this effort by introducing the STEP initiative into classes. Click here to watch the full story.
“We look for ideas that are scalable and implementable,” Rather said. “We are a statewide contest and want to make sure that best practices can work for multiple schools across Texas.”
The school with the winning proposal receives a grant of $10,000 from The Rather Prize and an additional $10,000 from Rice University to implement the idea. The initiative has established partnerships with Rice University and SXSWedu.
Jeames proposed using the $10,000 to provide off-campus training for students in various fields. For the health class, this includes clinical experience. The project could be applied to engineering, graphic design, and many other careers.
“It’s all of these things about taking students outside of the atmosphere and expose them not just to opportunities, but other people as well," Dr. Jeames said.
For those people in the Concho Valley, or West Texas, wishing to apply for this year’s Rather Prize, follow this link http://www.ratherprize.
“We seek to be a democratic process and accept ideas in all forms,” Rather said.