Asonja Dorsey: 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award Winner

Currently in her 21st year at Maury Elementary, Asonja Dorsey loves her school’s genuine, family-like atmosphere, calling it her “own little piece of heaven on earth.” Her enthusiasm has led her to serve on numerous committees at Maury, and to mentor student teachers and new teachers as they join the school’s faculty. This same communal spirit informs Mrs. Dorsey’s efforts in her classroom. “We are a team! We rise together, and pick each other up when we fall,” she describes. Mrs. Dorsey particularly appreciates the opportunity to work with first grade students, who amaze her with their eagerness to learn. By identifying students’ prior knowledge, frequently checking for progress, and monitoring growth, Mrs. Dorsey is “aware of where the students are every given minute,” and adjusts her instruction to meet their needs. As a result, more than 90 percent of her students meet or exceed reading benchmarks every year. Carolyne Albert-Garvey, the Principal of Maury Elementary, praises Mrs. Dorsey’s commitment to student achievement. “It’s impossible for students to not be successful in her class,” she says. “She works with students every minute of class time. This shows how much she values her students—kids always come first.”

Mrs. Dorsey has deep family ties to the D.C. Public Schools—she attended Woodson Senior High School, and her children studied at Duke Ellington School of the Arts and McKinley Technology High School. Her mother, a Spingarn Senior High School graduate, was also a DCPS teacher and inspired Mrs. Dorsey to become an educator. Recalling the hundreds of hours her mother devoted to students, Mrs. Dorsey says, “I stand in awe of her mastery and commitment in the classroom. She was the greatest teacher I have ever known.”

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