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New Award to Recognize Outstanding Texas AP Teacher

Prize funded by Meyerson family honors philanthropists Peter and Edith O'Donnell

The O’Donnell Texas AP Teacher Award will be presented annually through CFT to one AP teacher in a Texas public high school for remarkable contributions to his or her students and school, as well as to the teaching profession. Nominations for the award, which includes a cash prize of $30,000, may be submitted by a teacher, administrator, AP student or parent of an AP student. The cash award is believed to be the largest individual prize offered to a public school educator in the United States.

Through college-level AP courses certified by the College Board, high school students have the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at most of the nation’s colleges and universities. Participation in AP courses allows students to broaden their intellectual horizons, gain an edge in college preparation and stand out in the college admissions process.

The new award for AP teachers is funded by the Morton H. Meyerson Family Tzedakah Fund. Mr. Meyerson, the chairman and CEO of 2M Companies and former president of EDS, said the new award accomplishes two goals.

“First, this prize will spotlight and celebrate the stellar work Texasteachers are doing to educate the state’s young people through the AP curriculum,” Mr. Meyerson said. “Second, it recognizes Mr. and Mrs. Peter O’Donnell, who have a deep respect and passion for the teaching profession.”

“The Texas AP Teacher Award will be the highest and best recognition of a group of professionals that Peter and Edith O’Donnell have spent a great deal of time and energy supporting,” he added. “These teachers give life to their students in a very profound way, and this award will honor their contribution and impact.”

Peter and Edith O’Donnell established the O’Donnell Foundation in 1957 to focus on improving education in Texas. The O’Donnells develop and fund model programs designed to strengthen math, engineering, science and arts education. Central to the success of all of their programs are teachers at all levels, from elementary to graduate school.

The O’Donnell Foundation created the Advanced Placement Incentive

Program, which has led to an increased number of high school students, especially minorities, who pass college-level courses in mathematics, science and English. The incentive program is the model for Advanced Placement incentive programs used by the National Math and Science Initiative as well as by high schools in Texas. The O’Donnells serve on the board of Advanced Placement Strategies, Inc., a nonprofit organization they founded to manage and implement the AP incentive program in Texas schools.

“It is an honor for Communities Foundation of Texas to collaborate with Mort Meyerson and to administer the O’Donnell Texas AP Teacher Award,” said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of CFT. “Being involved with the new award complements the foundation’s existing support for improving high school education across the state. The O’Donnell award will highlight the importance of the AP program in getting Texas teens ready for the college classroom.”

To be considered for the O’Donnell Texas AP Teacher Award, a nominee must be a current AP teacher in a Texas public high school, have a minimum of five years teaching AP courses in Texas, demonstrate a commitment to teaching as a career and be an inspiring model of excellence to others.

The recipient of the first O’Donnell award will be announced in November. For information about the award or nomination process for 2009, please contact Melinda Ellis at (214) 750-4226.


Peter and Edith O’Donnell (at left, standing and seated) attended a reception at CFT this spring honoring recipients of the 2008 Excellence in AP Arts and Music Theory Award Scholarships. Scholarship recipients were (standing, from left) Justin Chumbley, Lake Highlands High School; Timothy Seifert II, Poteet High School; and Kevin Bach, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; and Kayla Escobedo (seated), also from Booker T. Washington.