Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Jason Kamras was voted the 2005 National Teacher of the Year. He is the director of human capital strategy for teachers in D.C. Public Schools and is an advisor on education policy to the Barack Obama presidential campaign. Before that, he served as a seventh-grade mathematics teacher at John Philip Sousa Middle School, in Washington, D.C. for eight years.
During his 9-year career, he has taught mathematics and social studies to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. After graduating from Princeton University with a degree in public policy in 1995, Kamras joined Teach For America, which placed him at Sousa. His relentless determination and hard work have helped him to achieve significant gains with his students. For example, he piloted changes in the mathematics curriculum that helped the percentage of students scoring "below basic" on the Stanford 9 test to fall from 80 percent to 40 percent in one year. In addition, he is the founder of the Expose camera club, which teaches students to use digital photography to depict their lives. This project earned him the Mayor's Art Award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education.
Kamras views teachers as civil rights activists. Sousa was segregated until a 1954 challenge to its status led to the desegregation of DC public schools. "To honor the school's unique role in the movement, I feel compelled to guarantee that it serves as an agent of social change, advancing those who have been ignored or constrained," he says. Kamras is also a digital rights advocate for teachers and believes every educator should have the same tools he uses: a laptop, Internet access, an LCD projector, inexpensive student-response devices for classroom polling, and a smart whiteboard for interactive classroom displays. Jason and fellow Teach For America employee, Miwa Powell, were married on Sunday, November 5, 2006.