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GSE Teaching Award

April 26, 2011, Volume 57, No. 31

The recipient of the Graduate School of Education’s 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award is Practice Professor James (Torch) Lytle, who also coordinates Penn’s education management relationship with the School District of Philadelphia.

GSE singles out for this award those who have “a strong commitment to teaching and learning,” who demonstrate an interest and enthusiasm for both the course material and for the students, and who are intellectually challenging and stimulating. In the words of one student, “Anyone can talk about how theory and practice inform each other, but Torch—as a storied practitioner—helps students actually bridge those two worlds.” Another describes Dr. Lytle as “the single antidote to stale and conservative thinking as he really pushes you to step back and see the big-picture ideas.”

Dr. Lytle’s expertise lies in school and district leadership, the emergent marketization of public education, urban school reform, and the intersections of school leadership and entrepreneurship. He received his BA in history and English from Cornell University, his master’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his EdD in educational Administration from Stanford University.

Before joining the faculty at Penn GSE, Dr. Lytle served as superintendent for the Trenton (New Jersey) Public Schools, where he led an aggressive effort to implement New Jersey’s urban education reform initiative. Prior to that, he served in a variety of capacities in the School District of Philadelphia as an elementary, middle, and high school principal; executive director for planning, research, and evaluation; regional superintendent; and assistant superintendent. He has been a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and a high school English teacher.


Almanac - April 26, 2011, Volume 57, No. 31