The Woodridge Award for Great Teachers
The Woodridge Award is presented annually by prominent people to the K-12 teacher who most helped them on their way. The presentation is a highlight of our “Show Teachers the Love!” celebration held each May on National Teacher Day. The Woodridge Award is named in honor of Mattie Woodridge, who taught high school English in Helena, Arkansas during Segregation, a time when white teachers made a disgraceful $625 a year and black teachers earned only half that. After winning her school’s outstanding teacher award four times, Woodridge organized a local Teacher Day to celebrate local teachers. Its success led her to campaign for a national day of recognition for teachers. She successfully enlisted the help of Eleanor Roosevelt and together they lobbied Congress until, in 1953, National Teacher Day was established.
Meme Houlihan Middlesworth, a K–12 educator for over forty years, received the 2021 Woodridge Award from her former student, comedian Mike Birbiglia.
Mary Rooney, a former middle school teacher, received the 2019 Woodridge Award from her former student David Coleman, Chief Executive Officer of the College Board.
Carmen Fariña, former New York City schools chancellor, received the 2018 Woodridge Award from her grateful former students novelist and essayist Jonathan Lethem and translator and critic Mara Faye Lethem.
Patricia Redd Johnson, a former middle school teacher, received the 2017 Woodridge Award from her grateful former student, Francisco Núñez, a conductor, composer, and the founder of The Young People’s Chorus of New York City.