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BELL Announces Winners of the 2013 Peterkin Award for Educational Leadership

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BOSTON, MA - January 21, 2014 - Today BELL announced the 2013 winners of the Robert B. Peterkin Award for Educational Leadership:

Shanny Herrera
After School Program Manager
PS 36 in Manhattan

Damon Johnson
Summer Program Manager
William March Middle School in Baltimore

The Peterkin Award is one of BELL's highest employee honors. Its recipients are honored for their leadership excellence in the BELL Summer and BELL After School programs. They earn the award based on BELL staff nominations, scholar assessment data, scholar engagement measures such as retention and attendance, quality assurance measures, and feedback from parent and teacher surveys.

Shanny led an after school program at PS 36 for 199 scholars in grades K-5. The program was part of a year-round expanded learning time initiative with the Department of Youth & Community Development. It started in September and operated for two hours per day, four days per week, throughout the school year.

"One of Shanny's most striking qualities is her sense of community," notes Timothy Coleman, BELL's Director of Field Operations in New York. "She is constantly building partnerships with coffee shops, supermarkets, stores - she works connect scholars and families with whatever benefits and resources she can mobilize from the community. This past year, for example, she was able to partner with a grocery store to host a holiday event and to provide free turkeys for a number of families at PS 36 - not just BELL families, but families from the school community who lacked services. She's always going above and beyond for her community."

When the school year ended, Shanny served as Program Manager for the BELL Summer program at nearby PS 161, which served scholars from PS 36 and additional local schools. Principals from several schools were so impressed with Shanny's program leadership that the invited new partnerships with BELL this fall. "Shanny leads by example," said Coleman. "She is willing to roll up her sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done. She's always the first Program Manager to fill her enrollment slots, the first one to host parent orientations. She had one of the highest quality ratings in the city from DYCD."

Damon led a summer program at William March Middle School for 194 scholars. The BELL Summer program served as an opportunity for scholars who were at risk of being retained in grade to improve their performance in order to be promoted. Damon's challenge was to deliver a focused, productive learning experience that operated five days per week, for six and one-half hours per day (8:00 - 2:30), for five weeks (July 1 - August 2). The program was also part of larger partnerships with Baltimore City Public Schools and the Smarter Summers initiative of the National Summer Learning Association and Walmart.

"What really stands out about Damon is his real passion for the work," said Nadia Bryan, BELL's Executive Director in Baltimore. "As challenging as the work is, his ultimate focus is always on scholar success. He runs a strong, orderly program, but he takes the time to be a positive force in scholars' lives. A lot of them have few or no male role models - Damon provides direction and support every day."

In addition to serving as Program Manager, Damon assumed additional responsibilities for training and program support. He has traveled to BELL's sites around the country and helped coach new Program Managers. "Damon brings a deep and genuine commitment to changing the lives of our BELL scholars," said Jessica Landers-Hopkins, BELL's Director of Program & Training. "His background as a Marine, teacher, administrator, pastor and parent comes through very clearly, particularly when you see him establish behavior management expectations with his scholars. When he speaks, scholars listen."

The Program Committee of BELL's governing Board of Directors and its leadership team select winners each year in honor of Dr. Robert B. Peterkin, a longtime BELL board member, former Director of the Urban Superintendents Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and pioneer in educational leadership. Learn more about Dr. Peterkin here.

Recipients of the award will be invited to participate in key projects and initiatives and apply their leadership skills in helping to shape the future of BELL. In recognition of all of their contributions, each winner will receive an award and a check for $1,000. Their names will be engraved on a plaque in each BELL office, joining winners from prior years.

Read an interview with Shanny and Damon.


Shanny Herrera, Manhattan, NY
Damon Johnson, Baltimore, MD

Dalexis Valdez, Boston, MA: BELL After School
Dr. Ronnie Johnson, Brooklyn, NY: Boys of BELL (Summer)
Rita Moore, Winston-Salem, NC: BELL Summer

Daniel Guillen, Bronx, NY: BELL After School
Janine Royal, Bronx, NY: BELL Summer

Collette Tallow, Boston, MA: BELL After School
Cynthia Francis, Detroit, MI: BELL Summer

Bethy Verano, Boston, MA: BELL After School

Sherrinne Reece, Bronx, NY: BELL After School

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