Big Inspiration from Big Apple Teachers

Do you remember your most inspiring teacher? The one who patiently showed you how to make the macaroni necklace for mother’s day, or the one who had eyes in the back of their head, or the one who believed you were “college material” even if you didn’t see it in yourself? What would you say to this life-changing educator if you saw them again? Thousands of NYC public school students were able to show their appreciation to the teachers who mean the most to them by nominating them for the 2017 Big Apple Awards.

The Big Apple Awards, now in its fifth year, is a citywide recognition program that celebrates the educators of New York City who inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich their school communities. This school year inspired 7,800 nominations from students, families, teachers, and community members. More than 200 applicants were named finalists, with 19 amazing educators chosen to serve as Big Apple Fellows. Recipients received surprise classroom visits by the Chancellor, Deputy Chancellors, and other members of the NYC education community, notifying them of their award and celebrating them in front of of their students and colleagues.

In the school year following the award, recipients participate as Big Apple Fellows in addition to their teaching duties. They serve on the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Group and meet monthly to further develop and lead through their classroom. Through this special opportunity, Fellows’ build leadership skills while ensuring they gain a broader understanding of education at a citywide level.

A portion of the Big Apple Awards are made possible with generous private support through the Fund for Public Schools, which will provided classroom grants to 17 of the 19 Big Apple Award winners. This year’s Big Apple Awards recipients come from all five boroughs, and teach a range of subjects and grade levels. These recipients include:

  • Danielle Bocchino, 5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 215 Morris H. Weiss, Brooklyn;
  • Corinne Cornibe, High School Math Teacher, Academy for Young Writers, Brooklyn;
  • Yocasty Diaz, Middle School Math Teacher, I.S. 219 New Venture School, the Bronx;
  • Keira Dillon, 5th Grade Gifted & Talented Teacher, P.S. 163 Alfred E. Smith, Manhattan;
  • Adriana DiScipio, English as a New Language Teacher, P.S. 230 Doris L. Cohen, Brooklyn;
  • Leslie Lehrman, High School English Teacher, Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology, the Bronx;
  • Jessica Martell, 5th Grade Teacher, Central Park East II, Manhattan;
  • Nash Matute, Reading Recovery Teacher, Archer Elementary School, the Bronx;
  • Katie McArdle, Elementary Autism Teacher, P.S. K231, Brooklyn;
  • Faye Michalakos, 6th Grade Math Teacher, Hellenic Classical Charter School, Brooklyn;
  • Carmen Morales, TASC Preparation Teacher, East River Academy, Rikers Island;
  • Patrick Murphy, Special Education Teacher, P.S. 199 Maurice A. Fitzgerald, Queens;
  • Rosario Orengo, Middle School Social Studies Teacher, The Urban Assembly Unison School, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn;
  • Elaine Rodriguez, Dual Language Middle School Math Teacher, M.S. 322, Manhattan;
  • Julia Satt, 2nd Grade Special Education Teacher, P.S. 45 John Tyler, Staten Island;
  • Diana Shteynberg, Pre-K Teacher, Shorefront YM-YWHA, Brooklyn; and
  • Binh Thai, 6th Grade Humanities Teacher, University Neighborhood Middle School, Manhattan.

The Fund also partnered for the fifth year with Lincoln Center Education; an organization that works with the DOE on several arts education programs, to sponsor the Arts Award which was given to James Harrington, who teaches Fine Arts at the Art at Design High School in Manhattan.

In addition, the Physical Education Award, a new category this year, was made possible with inaugural funding by the New York Road Runners, a longtime DOE partner that provides fitness and wellness programs to dozens of schools across the city. Rose Newman, who teaches Physical Education at P.S. 118 Lorraine Hansberry in Queens, was the proud recipient.

“We are pleased to provide philanthropic support for the Big Apple Awards in partnerships with both Lincoln Center and New York Road Runners,” said Sarah Geisenheimer, executive director of the Fund. “Together, this work helps to connect the awardees – some of our schools’ most excellent educators – to the larger NYC community.”

An official Big Apple Awards ceremony will be held on June 22, 2017 at the Tweed Courthouse to honor the 19 educators.

You can make a gift to support the Big Apple Awards and help recognize more great teachers for their important work. Join countless alumni making gifts in honor of their most inspiring teachers

David Belsky