GSE News

Torch Lytle Receives GSE Teaching Excellence Award

April 19, 2011 - The recipient of the Graduate School of Education’s 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award is Practice Professor James (Torch) Lytle, who also coordinates Penn’s education management relationship with the School District of Philadelphia.

GSE singles out for this award those who have “a strong commitment to teaching and learning,” who demonstrate an interest and enthusiasm for both the course material and for the students, and who are intellectually challenging and stimulating. In the words of one student, “Anyone can talk about how theory and practice inform each other, but Torch--as a storied practitioner--helps students actually bridge those two worlds.” Another describes Lytle as “the single antidote to stale and conservative thinking as he really pushes you to step back and see the big-picture ideas.”

Torch LytleDr. Lytle’s expertise lies in school and district leadership, the emergent marketization of public education, urban school reform, and the intersections of school leadership and entrepreneurship. He received his B.A. in History and English from Cornell University, his master’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his Ed.D. in Educational Administration from Stanford University.

Before joining the faculty at Penn GSE, Dr. Lytle served as superintendent for the Trenton (New Jersey) Public Schools, where he led an aggressive effort to implement New Jersey’s urban education reform initiative. Prior to that, he served in a variety of capacities in the School District of Philadelphia as an elementary, middle, and high school principal; executive director for planning, research, and evaluation; regional superintendent; and assistant superintendent. He has been a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and a high school English teacher.

Additional recipients of Penn GSE awards are:

  • Joseph Sass, a 2010 graduate of the School's Psychological Services program and former VP of the GSE Student Government (GSESG): The Arnold Award for Outstanding Contributions by a Student,
  • Mary Conger, a doctoral student in the Ed Leadership program and former GSESG president: The GSE Student Leadership Award
  • Christine Lee, the coordinator of the Policy, Measurement and Evaluation division, and Evelyn Jordan, the coordinator of the Applied Psychology - Human Development division: The GSE Outstanding Service to Students Award.
Awards will be presented at the Penn GSE Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 13, at 2:00 p.m., in GSE Room 203.