Washington, DC (STL.News) Mayor Muriel Bowser presented Alejandro Diasgranados, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Aiton Elementary School, with the 2021 DC Teacher of the Year Award. The prestigious honor is awarded annually to a public or public charter school teacher in Washington, DC who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment to student achievement and comes with cash prize of $7,500.
“Outstanding educators like Alejandro Diasgranados help students connect what they learn in the classroom to the world around them and inspire them to be life-long learners,” said Mayor Bowser. “We thank Mr. Diasgranados for all he has done for his students and the Aiton Elementary community. Congratulations on being selected as the 2021 DC Teacher of the Year!”
In addition to receiving this honor, Diasgranados will now be considered for the National Teacher of the Year Award, which is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). He will also receive an additional $2,500 to support travel to national conferences, workshops and other professional development opportunities during his one-year term as 2021 DC Teacher of the Year.
“This year especially, I have seen our teachers work in new ways to demonstrate their commitment to our students’ success,” said District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “I am proud of all that Alejandro Diasgranados has done to keep our students engaged in rigorous and joyful learning experiences, and thankful for his trusted presence in our community. Congratulations to Mr. Diasgranados, whose remarkable leadership inspires us all.”
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education also awarded $1,500 to two other 2021 DC Teacher of the Year finalists – Lauren McKenzie, a social studies teacher at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, and Shelina Warren, a social studies teacher at Dunbar High School.
“Through engaging projects, Alejandro Diasgranados has inspired in his students a joy of learning that has translated to advocacy for issues important to the Aiton Elementary community and students throughout the District,” said State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. “Alejandro has played an important role in improving student outcomes as well as school climate. We are grateful for his talent and dedication. Congratulations, Alejandro, for being named 2021 DC Teacher of the Year.”
Diasgranados, referred to as “Mr. Dias” by his students, has taught at Aiton Elementary for the entirety of his five-year career in education. A Prince George’s County native and High Point High School graduate, Diasgranados received a bachelor’s degree in health science at Virginia State University, where he played football. After graduation, he briefly attended physical therapy school in Springfield, MA before working as a substitute teacher in nearby Holyoke, MA, where he discovered his passion for education.
Diasgranados joined Teach for America (TFA) and in 2015, began teaching at Aiton Elementary School in Ward 7. In 2018, when he received a master’s degree in education at Johns Hopkins University, all 40 of his students raised $2,000 to attend Diasgranados’ graduation ceremony. As a TFA alumnus and teacher-leader, Diasgranados applied for and received a $10,000 grant from the Washington Football Team for a laundry center at his school. He also hosted a coat drive at Aiton with Devante Smith-Pelly of the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals. Diasgranados also was invited, along with his class, to cut the ribbon to the Lockkeeper’s House.
Diasgranados, who teaches English language arts and social studies, empowers his students to act as agents of change and inspires them to advocate for themselves and others. In one project, students hoped to challenge inequity of opportunity by creating and distributing information-rich pamphlets that explained how educational inequity impacts our community. They also wrote letters to District leaders, including Mayor Bowser, Councilmember David Grosso, and Chancellor Ferebee, among other projects.