Erica Mariola, New Orleans KIPP Teacher, Takes Home the Fishman


The Fishman Prize is an annual award that honors the nation’s most amazing public school teachers who work with low-income families.

It is given by TNTP. Four teachers are awarded the Prize each year.

The Prize consists of a $25,000 award, a seat at the Fishman Prize Summer Residency, and lifetime participation in the Fishman Prize Alumni Program.

This year, the prize was given to .005 of applicants.


Erica Mariola, a teacher at KIPP East Community Primary, is one of the four Fishman winners.

On average, students enter Erica’s class in the 20th percentile in math nationally. After a year with Erica, they rank in the 90th percentile. This year, they’re on track to be among the top kindergarten classes in New Orleans in learning growth.

Previously, Erica conducted research in a neuroscience lab for four years and lived and worked in Cameroon as a surrogate mother for orphaned primates.

Afterwards, she worked in development for Teach For America before joining the program herself, ultimately teaching for six years as an elementary special education teacher in Atlanta Public Schools before making the move to New Orleans as a founding teacher at KIPP East Community Primary.

As a part of her school’s Louisiana Autism Spectrum and Related Disabilities (LASARD) team, Erica also works closely with students with severe academic and behavioral needs.


I would have loved to interview Erica for this post, but she just found out about the award this morning, and I didn’t want to get out-scooped by the journalists who should be descending on her classroom as we speak.

So I’ll end on this: to date, there have been 16 Fishman prize winners.

3 of them have been New Orleans teachers.

That’s a 19% win rate for a city that serves that about .001% of public school students in the country.

New Orleans is incredibly lucky to have teachers such as Erica doing amazing work for children across the city.

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