Newark Teachers Union member Lee Snowden, who teaches at the city’s University High School, will be honored May 24 as one of four Princeton Prize for Distinguished Secondary School Teaching recipients during Princeton University’s 2022 commencement.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized for the great work that is happening at University High School,” Snowden says. “I am looking forward to attending the Princeton commencement. It will be one of the highlights of my career.”

Snowden and the other honorees were selected for the prize based on nominations from public and private schools around New Jersey. (In its review of applications, Princeton’s Program in Teacher Preparation “considers recommendations from colleagues and students as well as evidence of the teachers’ accomplishments in the school and the community,” writes Jennifer Altmann, who is with Princeton’s Office of Communications.)

While the Princeton prize is a career peak, one of the highlights of his life, Snowden says, was attending University High School. He describes it as “one of the most prestigious institutions in the Newark school district. The bedrock of University is to pay it forward and return to make Newark a better place to be.”

Snowden has spent more than two decades working in the Newark school district, and he’s been teaching at his alma mater — which like East Side High is part of the AFT-supported Red Hawks Rising teacher academy — for the past few years. He is the lead instructor for various teacher education courses in grades 9-12, among them a class on teaching socially just education.

“I firmly believe that all scholars are unique and must share their story of who they are and what they represent,” Snowden says. “The teacher academy builds relevant relationships through our program of study.”

He adds, “My teaching style is simple: The scholars must see themselves in the topics and content that is presented to them. Relevancy to the content presented allows the scholars to connect and build upon the material.”

Snowden will receive $5,000 as part of his Princeton Prize for Distinguished Secondary School Teaching, plus $3,000 to be used for his school’s library.

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