Innovators in Education to Get Prestigious National Prize

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ISA announces inaugural recipients of Leeds Prize for Excellence in Education

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Education leaders to receive inaugural Lilo & Gerard Leeds Prize for Excellence in Education from Institute for Student Achievement. James B. Hunt, Jr., 4-term governor of North Carolina and Peekskill, NY School Superintendent Judith Johnson honored.

Two nationally prominent education leaders are the first recipients of the Lilo J. and Gerard G. Leeds Prize for Excellence in Education, an award to be presented annually by the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA), an innovative leader in high school reform. The award acknowledges organizations or individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the vision of ISA’s founders, “a quality education for all students.”

The 2010 Leeds Prize will go to four-time governor of North Carolina and nationally recognized education advocate James B. Hunt, Jr., and to Peekskill (NY) School Superintendent Judith Johnson, New York State’s 2008 Superintendent of the Year and Acting Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education in the Clinton administration. The prize will be presented at a reception on Wednesday, June 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Mutual of America, 320 Park Avenue in Manhattan. David Ushery, WNBC-TV, will host the inaugural presentation.

The Leeds Prize is a tribute to the lifelong commitment of Lilo and Gerry Leeds and the Leeds family to equality in education for all students. The Leeds, refugees from Nazi Germany who built an American publishing empire, founded ISA in 1990 to address inequities in high school education and help underserved students graduate prepared for college success. Today, ISA partners with school districts in six states to transform failing high schools into academically rigorous college preparatory high schools. ISA schools — often located in challenging areas where graduation rates have been as low as 35% — have graduated as many as 90% of their seniors with nearly 90% of those graduates going on to college. National Student Clearinghouse data shows that 94% of ISA students persist into their second year of college at compared to76% nationally. In two-year programs, 74% of ISA students persist into the third semester, compared to the national rate of 53%.

“We are fortunate to work with and to benefit from the real heroes of high school reform,” said Dr. Gerry House, President and CEO of the Institute for Student Achievement. “Judith Johnson and James Hunt are extraordinary advocates for high educational standards and equal opportunity for all students, perhaps the single greatest predictor of America’s future success. It is an honor to acknowledge them and to pay tribute to the Leeds’ commitment to excellence and equality in education.”

A partial list of National Honorary Chairs for the event includes: President Bill Clinton; Senator Charles Schumer; U.S. Representative Nita M. Lowey; Bob Wise, Alliance for Excellent Education; Calvin O. Butts, State University of New York College at Old Westbury; Russell and Alice Artz; Frank and Rita Castagna; James P. Comer, Yale School of Medicine; Pat Edwards, Citibank; Beverly L. Hall, Atlanta Public Schools; John H. Jackson, Schott Foundation for Public Education; New York City Councilmember Robert Jackson; Arthur Levine, Woodrow Wilson Foundation; Patrick A. Lespinasse, Verizon; Vinford Mentar, JP Morgan Chase; Philip Panarelli, HSBC; Robert A. Scott, Adelphi University; Roger Tilles, Board of Regents, The University of the State of New York; Merryl H. Tisch, Board of Regents, The University of the State of New York; Lester W. Young, Jr., Board of Regents, The University of the State of New York.

Detailed information about The Leeds Prize, the 2010 honorees, and the work of the Institute for Student Achievement is available on the ISA website at

About ISA (Institute for Student Achievement)
ISA (Institute for Student Achievement) is a high school transformation organization that uses a proven, research-based educational framework to transform underperforming public high schools into rigorous and supportive learning environments that prepare all students for success in college. ISA schools, often located in areas where graduation rates have been as low as 35%, increased their graduation rates—some to 90% with nearly 90% of those graduates continuing on to college. ISA has 80 partner schools in six states, serving 20,000 students. For more information contact us at (516) 812-6771 or visit

Contact: Laura deBuys
Director of Communications
Office 516.812.6771
Mobile 516.474.0244

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