The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership awarded the 2011 Ann “Tunky” Riley Excellence in Education Scholarships to Dawud Akram, an eighth-grade teacher at New York Avenue School in Atlantic City, N.J., and to William Washington, director of the music program at Richmond County Elementary in Warsaw, Va.

These $25,000 scholarships are awarded to educators who enroll as new students in the Riley College of Education and Leadership and who are making a contribution to students, colleagues, or an economically disadvantaged school or community. Akram is enrolled in Walden’s Doctor of Education (EdD) program with a specialization in Administrator Leadership for Teaching and Learning. Washington is enrolled in the Doctor of Education (EdD) program with a specialization in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

Akram wrote in his essay: “Upon entering the field of education, I made it my mission to make a positive impact on the children that I came in contact with. Fifteen years later, I am highly confident that I did just that. As I fulfilled my goal to make a difference, I began to look at research that suggests that over time there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children raised in homes where there is an absence of a father. As a result of my research, I was fortunate to develop a program to provide the opportunity for young men to discuss issues and experiences that have been linked to anxieties and stressors at home, school, and in society.”

Washington wrote in his essay: “When I first arrived at Richmond County Elementary, I immediately took note of the absence of after-school offerings; there were none. So, in 1994, I began a choral program that experienced a great deal of success—The Dragon Singers. The goal of this new, after-school program was to help ALL children get a tangible idea of excellence: the pursuit of pride and perfection. Ninety percent of the children that have been involved in the Dragon Choir program for two or more years have gone to college after high school graduation.”