2024 Education Alumni Awards honorees announced

April 1, 2024

Every year, the Penn GSE Education Alumni Awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our community. These exceptional graduates, along with recipients of other annual awards given by the School, will be recognized on Saturday, May 18, during the annual Celebration of Educators at Alumni Weekend. All Penn GSE alum teachers celebrating at least their fifth year in the classroom will also be honored.

The Celebration of Educators will also include a panel discussion on “The Economics of Education” with Dean Katharine O. Strunk, followed by a reception.

All members and friends of the Penn GSE community are welcome to attend. Space is limited, so please RSVP at penng.se/coe24.


Penn GSE Educator of the Year

Christina Grant, GRD’21, State Superintendent of Education, D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Washington, D.C.

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate or friend of the University of Pennsylvania, preferably of the Graduate School of Education, who demonstrates unusual involvement in and commitment to identifying and helping to resolve school problems and current issues in education. The recipient of this award must be a dedicated educator who is an inspiration, risk-taker, innovator, and role model and who demonstrates a commitment to the betterment of Penn GSE.

Helen C. Bailey Award

Charlotte E. Jacobs, GRD’17, Director, Independent Teaching Residency Program, University of Pennsylvania

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education who has brought recognition and status to Penn GSE and the University of Pennsylvania. The recipient of this award must have made a distinctive contribution to the field of education and Penn GSE, including but not limited to contributions made through research, exceptional professional involvement, or publications. 

William B. Castetter Alumni Award of Merit

Hang Qin, GED’18, Founder and CEO, Pengzhi Educational Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd

This award recognizes an outstanding University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education graduate for significant service to Penn GSE. Service to the School may include volunteering, being an alum leader, serving on the Penn Alumni Board or in Penn Regional Clubs, or other leadership opportunities with the University of Pennsylvania. The recipient should have a longstanding relationship with the School and exemplify volunteer leadership.

Ethel and Allen “Buddy” Carruth Sustained Leadership in Education Award

DeAngela Burns-Wallace, GRD’09, President and CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Established in 2004 to recognize significant service to the education community by an esteemed graduate or friend of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. The award honors the memory of Ethel Carruth, ED'43, a distinguished alumna, benefactor, and friend of Penn GSE. Mrs. Carruth and her late husband, Allen Carruth, left an extraordinary legacy, fostering enthusiastic dedication and support of numerous causes, inspiring benevolence and a lifetime of involvement. Their support of education impacted many in the field and motivated unprecedented achievement and guidance throughout the community. The recipient of this award will serve as an inspiration to others, transcending expectations and providing opportunities in service. 

Kwame Nkrumah Distinguished Alumni Award

Jasmine L. Blanks Jones, GR’21, Executive Director of the Center for Social Concern, Johns Hopkins University

Established in 2019, this award recognizes an illustrious graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE) or the former University of Pennsylvania School of Education who has made distinct and transformative contributions to the field of education in the nation or the world. The award honors Kwame Nkrumah, GED'43, G'44, the first president of independent Ghana. Nkrumah fought for Ghana's independence and was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity. As President, Nkrumah set up a strong system of basic education, initiating compulsory primary education in 1962. In 2000, he was voted African Man of the Millennium by the BBC World Service listeners, who described him as a "hero of independence" and an "international symbol of freedom " as the leader of the first black African country to shake off the chains of colonial rule. 

The recipient of this award will have made a demonstrative and uncommon impact in education through research, policy and/or service. Their contribution will have a global impact on improving circumstances for historically oppressed or marginalized communities. The recipient will reflect the values and aspirations of Penn GSE and its commitment to equity and opportunity and serve as a role model for Penn GSE students and alums.

Penn GSE Recent Alumni/Early Career Award of Merit

Nora D. S. Rodman, GED’20, Preschool Teacher at Audubon Elementary, Chicago Public Schools

ArCasia D. James-Gallaway, GED’16, Assistant Professor - Teaching, Learning & Culture, Texas A&M University

This award recognizes outstanding graduates who have shown outstanding service to the University of Pennsylvania and the Graduate School of Education before their 10th reunion year and are setting an inspirational example for future alums of Penn GSE. This includes but is not limited to significant contributions by an individual in their field of endeavor, whether through professional achievement or community service, and the devotion of significant time, energy, and enthusiasm to volunteerism and cultivation.