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03.18.16
2016 TAP Founder's Award Finalists Announced
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New Orleans, Louisiana—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today announced six finalists for the prestigious TAP Founder's Award. Created by NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken, the TAP Founder's Award is given annually to one school for exceptional efforts to implement and represent the principles of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement – resulting in significant and sustained increases in student achievement, among other goals.

The TAP System is America's leading comprehensive educator effectiveness model that aligns teacher leadership, daily job-embedded professional development, meaningful evaluation and support, and opportunities for performance-based compensation. TAP has been on the ground for more than a decade. It supports schools, districts, universities and states in their missions to strengthen classroom instruction with the ultimate goal of improving learning growth for all students.

Funded by the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the TAP Founder's Award includes a $50,000 prize to be used toward continuing to improve classroom teaching and student success. The finalists' names were publicly revealed at the 16th National TAP Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, before 1,000 educators, policymakers, researchers and other influential leaders. The announcement of the TAP Founder’s Award winner will take place at a luncheon tomorrow, March 19, 2016.

Each finalist will receive a plaque and $5,000. The 2016 TAP Founder's Award finalists are:

  • Clarendon Elementary School, Osborn School District No. 8, Phoenix, AZ
  • Dodson Branch Elementary School, Jackson County Schools, Cookeville, TN
  • Greer Middle College Charter High School, Greenville County Schools, Taylors, SC
  • Mansfield High School, DeSoto Parish Schools, Mansfield, LA
  • Somerset High School, Somerset Independent School District, Somerset, TX
  • Southport Elementary School, Perry Township Schools, Indianapolis, IN


Each finalist school implements the TAP System by establishing leadership teams, made up of master and mentor teachers as well as administrators, who drive instruction on campus. These teacher leaders guide weekly professional development and provide individual coaching in classrooms.

TAP's teacher leadership opportunities and professional development are complemented by meaningful systems of educator evaluation, feedback and support, as well as a compensation system that rewards educators for increased skill and student performance, and for taking on new leadership roles and responsibilities.

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“In every endeavor, people make the difference, and just one person has the power to make a profound difference in the lives of so many people.” - Lowell Milken