Outstanding Educators Awarded Prizes
Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize
in Education Awarded to
Blais, Griffin & Reed
Twenty-one years ago, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. established a prize to recognize educators who had made a significant difference in the lives of children through innovative approaches in education. Each year, three recipients are feted at a glamourous black-tie each year in the elegant main rotunda of the 42nd Street library and amidst the thunderous applause of their peers, receive prizes of $25,000 each. While Harold W. McGraw III (Terry) called the evening his “favorite night,” his father, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. declared, “I really love education!”
Honoree Dr. Charles B. Reed, Chancellor of the California State University System for over 10 years, provides leadership to 46,000 faculty and staff and almost 450,000 students. His initiative to recruit and retain more minority students paved the way to working with K-12 schools to ensure that all students have a college prep program and know how to apply to college. The result was a rise in the applications and enrollment of underserved students.
Honoree Judith Berry Griffin founded Pathways to College, a national after-school initiative that helps students of color achieve a college education. Since 1992, the program has served 2,000 students who have attended selective four-year colleges such as Brown, Smith and Stanford.
Honoree Mr. Richard Blais founded Project Lead the Way, a pre-engineering curriculum to increase the numbers of students who would have the knowledge and skills to succeed in engineering. In the past ten years, the program has expanded to 300,000 students in 300 school sites throughout 50 states. At its current growth rate, it is anticipated that an additional 1 million new engineers will join the nation’s work force as a direct result of Project Lead the Way.
Many of the honorees’ initiatives started as grass roots efforts. Project Lead the Way was begun by a small cadre of K-12 educators, evidence, said Blais, underscoring the power of a small committed group of individuals. Power was cited in Reed’s speech: “You know the power of education. We need to share that power. We need to give students a road map to graduation. If Americans can spend $1 billion on Wall Street, they can spend it on our schools.” As part of the process, Reed distributed 2 and ½ million posters on how to get to college.
Among the distinguished guests were Ray Cortines, former Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education and currently Senior Deputy Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and James Comer, M.D., Associate Dean of the Yale School of Medicine, Yale Child Study Center, both members of the Board of Judges for the awards.
“Catching dreams is my most important job,” said Ms. Griffin in her acceptance speech. Indeed, that phrase aptly describes each of the honorees who are helping young people fulfill their dreams and thereby fulfilling America’s promise.#