Borough’s best public school teacher contest could net winner $25K and school $10K

Happy black teacher giving exam paper to her student while wearing protective face mask in the classroom.
For the fourth consecutive year, the city’s best public school teachers from each of the five boroughs will be considered for the FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence.
Photo courtesy Getty Images

For the fourth consecutive year, the city’s best public school teachers from each of the five boroughs will be considered for the FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence, where the winning teacher and school will win $25,000 and $10,000 respectively, contest organizers told the Bronx Times.

Eligible teachers will need at least five years of classroom experience and be all full-time K-12 teachers in New York City public schools. Each finalist will receive a $10,000 prize and an additional $2,000 will be awarded to the winner’s school. The school award provides additional resources for arts education, an area that is often underfunded in public schools.

Nominations are open through Dec. 2. Semifinalists will be notified by March 2023, and winners will be announced that June.

When COVID-19 disrupted the routine in-class academics in 2020 and most of 2021, the role of schoolteacher expanded from lesson plan instructions to emotional, virtual and academic support for students grappling with the pandemic.

And while New York state still leads the nation in education spending, there is a glaring lack of bilingual and special ed teachers, and a statewide problem finding enough bus drivers and substitute teachers. State officials estimate New York will need more than 180,000 new teachers over the next decade, at a time when fewer people are entering the profession, teacher union representatives tell the Bronx Times.

Teaching advocates say awards like FLAG not only provide underserved schools with needed funding but also help teachers feel appreciated and acknowledged for innovation in their classrooms.

“Teachers are filling so many roles in a child’s life, academically, emotionally, to sometimes physically providing resources for a student,” said Risa Daniels, co-president at FLAG Foundation. “If you’re thinking of a teacher as just someone who stands in front of a classroom and is just teaching lessons to a student, that’s a very incorrect and outdated view of what a teacher is to student, and their community.”

Teachers will be graded on a criteria that factors innovative teaching techniques, their impact beyond the classroom and in their community, and ability to impact their students in their academic growth.

Last year’s Bronx Grand Prize Winner was Cheriece White, a teacher at The Metropolitan Soundview High School, who founded her school’s arts program and several after-school arts and design clubs that teach students traditional and practicable art skills and allow them to apply their skills to real-world scenarios.

White beat a Bronx finalist pool that also included Jordan Haynes (The William W. Niles School, J.H.S. 118), Caitlin Tchaikowitz (PS 35x), Erin Moughon-Smith (The Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters) and Lisa Blackman (P. S. 304 Early Childhood Lab School).

Winners will be selected by a distinguished independent jury that includes: Betty A. Rosa, state education commissioner and president of the University of the State of New York; Bob Hughes, director of K-12 education of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Anastasia Difino, 2022 FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence Winner; Eugenie Tsai, senior curator of Contemporary Art at Brooklyn Museum; and Richard Haynes, director of school support at NYC Men Teach.

“Teachers provide students with the foundation to succeed in life, but great teachers do more, they open up a world of possibility for our children and their futures,” said Glenn Fuhrman, founder of The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence. “The FLAG Award allows us to recognize great teachers’ extraordinary impact.”

Reach Robbie Sequeira at [email protected] or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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