Meet The 2017 Ryan Award Winners

Each of the winners have demonstrated an impressive record of success when it comes to student achievement growth. Their leadership and dedication to student success are models of excellence that should be strived for in all underserved schools. And that’s why the Ryan Award is proud to recognize their achievements. These leaders are making a difference in children’s lives for years to come. 

Alexa Sorden

Founding Principal
Concourse Village Elementary School
South Bronx, NY

Ms. Sorden founded Concourse Village Elementary in 2013 to replace the New York City District 7 P.S. 385, a failing school serving low-income students. She placed strong emphasis on culture change through steps ranging from establishing a clear Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) to creating a uniform layout for each classroom to provide students with a strong sense of stability. By 2016, her initiatives helped the K-5 school of 356 students achieve significant learning gains, with almost 99 percent of the students passing the state math exam and 94 percent passing the ELA exam, more than 50 points higher than citywide results. 

All our focus is on learning,” Sorden says. “That’s why I invested so much effort into developing a positive culture and improving our classrooms. I needed students and staff to feel proud to be here. I share this award with all of them.”

Elizabeth Vandlik

Success Academy Bronx 1
South Bronx, NY

Success Academy Bronx 1 serves a minority population of 475 students in grades K-4, and is part of New York City’s largest and highest-performing free, public charter school network. Vandlik became principal of Success Academy Bronx 1 in 2013 after teaching kindergarten and fourth grade at Success Academy Harlem 1. Under her leadership, 83 percent of Bronx 1 students passed the state ELA exam and 99 percent passed the state math exam in 2016, compared to 38 percent and 42 percent for New York State and New York City.

At Success, we are all on one team, working together every day to inspire our scholars and strive for excellence in all that we do,” says Vandlik. “I’m proud to be a part of an organization that empowers educators to reverse the achievement gap, and I am honored to share this award with my Bronx family of scholars, parents and staff who continue to prove what’s possible in public education.”

Previous Ryan Award Winners in their own words