2022 Friday Medal to Honor Two Leaders in Education Research and Practice Together for the First Time

Image of Friday Medal recipients James A. Banks and Joann Blumenfeld.

Raleigh, N.C. — The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation has selected James A. Banks, the Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies Emeritus at the University of Washington College of Education and founding director of the Banks Center for Educational Justice, and Joann Blumenfeld, founder and program director for Catalyst at The Science House, to receive its 2022 Friday Medal award. For the first time, the Friday Institute has decided to honor both a practitioner and researcher within the same year.

“This year we want to recognize the bridge that the Friday Institute serves in connecting researchers and practitioners, both critical to our mission of advancing educational innovation so that all learners are prepared to succeed,” said Shaun Kellogg, interim executive director of the Friday Institute. “We are delighted to honor Ms. Blumenfeld and Dr. Banks with the 2022 Friday Medal. They are two amazing educators who, through their teaching and research respectively, have made a significant impact on advancing equity through their innovative work in education.” 

In recognition of the commitment of Bill and Ida Friday to educational excellence, the Friday Medal honors significant, distinguished and enduring contributions to education through advocating for innovation, advancing education and imparting inspiration. This award is given annually to selected individuals who embody the mission and spirit of the Friday Institute. 

Known as the “father of multicultural education,” Banks is a specialist in social studies and multicultural education, having written or edited more than 20 books and 100 articles in these fields. His books include An Introduction to Multicultural Education and Diversity, Transformative Knowledge, and Civic Education: Selected Essays. He has received numerous scholarly awards including the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) 1998 Presidents’ Award, the National Council for the Social Studies 2001 Distinguished Career Research in Social Studies Award and the inaugural American Educational Research Association (AERA) Social Justice in Education Award in 2004. 

Banks also received, with Cherry A. McGee Banks, the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education. He is a past president of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He is an AERA Fellow and an elected member of the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In 2021, Banks was the keynote speaker for the NC State College of Education’s Research Celebration.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Friday Medal because it recognizes the work I have done in multicultural and citizenship education for five decades that has enhanced racial equality and social justice in the United States and in other nations,” said Banks. “The receipt of the Friday Medal is especially appreciated and is a source of hope and inspiration when teaching about race in the schools and the quest for racial equality in education is being seriously challenged by well-orchestrated groups.”

Blumenfeld is a 20-year Wake County Public School System veteran teacher of K-12 special education, middle and high school science and middle school language arts. Because of her passion to help those who are typically underserved, over 95% of her students were from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities, low-income and had disabilities. 

Blumenfeld has written curriculum and presented at over 25 conferences to help her fellow educators help their students. She has published many articles about her program and advocates for changes to support students with disabilities in STEM. She is the founder and program director of Catalyst, a national, award-winning high school program designed to create STEM opportunities for students with disabilities, located at the Science House at NC State University. Blumenfeld recently launched and serves as program director of a second program, Connecting Students with Autism to Geographic Information Systems and Technology (GIST), which introduces ninth and tenth grade students to the growing field of drone piloting. 

Blumenfeld has been a Kenan Fellow, a NASA Educator Ambassador, a North Carolina Science Leadership Fellow, a National Science Teachers Association Beginning Teachers Dow Fellow, a World View Global Music Fellow and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. In 2022, she was selected by Time magazine as an Innovative Teacher and has received other educator awards including The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Award, the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children’s Teacher of Excellence award, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s 2018 Wake County Educator of Excellence Award and the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research’s Distinguished Teaching Award in STEM Education at the 2016 Bridging the Gap conference.

“Being selected for the Friday Medal is a great honor and a big surprise,” said Blumenfeld. “I appreciate this honor, but the real honor goes to the Catalyst and GIST participants who continue to grow, persevere, work hard and utilize all their wonderful skills and talents and demonstrate with innovative programs like Catalyst and GIST they can be successful in STEM and help create an inclusive, diverse and innovative STEM workforce.” 

Blumenfeld and Banks are the 16th and 17th recipients of the Friday Medal. The 2022 Friday Medal ceremony will be held at the Friday Institute Nov. 14, 2022, from 4-6 p.m. EST. Click here to learn more about the award and to view past recipients.

About the Friday Institute

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation advances K-12 education through innovation in teaching, learning and leadership by bringing together students, teachers, researchers, policymakers and educational professionals to foster collaborations that improve education for all learners. The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is part of NC State’s College of Education, one of the leading land-grant colleges of education in the nation.