University of Vermont

Alumnus Named Outstanding Teacher of the Year by Mayor of Philadelphia

Zachary Wright ’05 was named 2012-13 Outstanding Teacher of the Year by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for his work in creating a partnership between the University of Vermont and the Mastery Charter School.

Wright, who graduated with a bachelor's in English from UVM and teaches 12th grade English and AP Literature, was one of 40 teachers and counselors nominated by principals across Philadelphia and was given the award at the Top of the Class Ceremony in Philadelphia, along with three other teachers. His creation of the Mastery Catamount Scholarship allows for up to five Mastery Charter School students to attend UVM on grants, scholarships and work study with student loan responsibility not exceeding $5,500 per year. Two students will enter UVM in the fall on the scholarships.

The idea for the scholarship started with a call by Wright to the UVM Admissions Office to inquire about Discovering UVM, a program assisting high school seniors from underrepresented groups with their college search by exploring academic and extracurricular offerings at UVM during a two-day immersion program. Wright worked with Deborah Gale, associate director of diversity and international admissions, to initiate the relationship between UVM and Mastery Charter, and credits Alan Tinkler, assistant professor in education and social services; Ellen Baker, director of teacher education; Beth Wiser, director of admissions; Chris Lucier, vice president for enrollment management; and senior admissions counselor Max Tracy for guiding him through the process of implementing the innovative scholarship program.

“While I was of course honored, the recognition would be incomplete without passing it along to those at UVM who were absolutely essential to the creation of this partnership,” said Wright. “I am certain that we all found ourselves in the world of education because we all in some way wanted to help children, improve our communities, and be a part of social change. Most educators never get a chance to see the impact they’ve made, but we, through our work together, have and will continue to change the lives of these young people from West Philadelphia.”