West Side Music Teacher Surprised With National Award

CHICAGO (CBS) — A band teacher at a West Side high school got the surprise of a lifetime at the start of the school day on Monday – a $25,000 national teaching prize.

Steven Sanders, who is completing his fifth year teaching at UIC College Prep, was awarded the Fishman Prize for Superlative Classroom Practice by The New Teacher Project. The award is presented to no more than five teachers every year for exceptional work in high-poverty public schools.

Nearly 1,000 teachers were in the running for a Fishman Prize this year, and Sanders was one of only four to win. The first music teacher to win the prize, Sanders started the music program at UIC College Prep from scratch.

Once he got over the shock of receiving the award Monday morning, he was succinct in describing his emotions.

“This whole process is sort of surreal to me, but I don’t know, I’m lucky,” he said.

Along with a check for $25,000, the Fishman Prize also offers winners the opportunity to participate in an intensive summer residency where they share ideas on instructional practices with other teachers, and write essays on effective teaching.

After the surprise, it was back to work for Sanders. The school band has a big concert Monday night.

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