“Live with Kelly and Ryan” recently announced the return of: “Live’s Top Teacher Search,” which will honor educators the week of May 3-7 in celebration of the national “Teacher Appreciation Week.”
In the past year, teachers have had to step up like never before, learning how to keep students engaged and motivated while meeting the challenges of virtual and hybrid learning.
On April 27, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest unveiled the 10 semi-finalists and among them is STEM teacher Jamie Ewing of PS 277X in Mott Haven.
“I’m humbled and honored,” he told the Bronx Times. “It’s been a little overwhelming in a beautiful way.”
According to Ewing, he had no idea his friend Tyann Despirt nominated him.
“One of the main reasons why he is so deserving of this award is because of all of his accomplishments during these challenging times,” Despirt said in the submission. “Jamie buckled down spending hours creating innovative lessons for his students.”
The winner, who will receive $20,000, will be determined by an online vote by the “Live” viewing audience. Viewers can go to KellyandRyan.com to read all of the teacher stories and vote on their favorite. The four finalists will be featured each day this week on “Live.” The winning teacher will be revealed on May 7.
During the pandemic Ewing had students learn about how science relates to baseball, dressed up in different costumes, bought turkeys for the students for Thanksgiving and purchased dinners for first responders.
As much as Ewing loves teaching, this is a second chapter in his life. Ewing, in his 50s, grew up in North Carolina and was originally a clothing designer.
After working in fashion for a while, he realized he wasn’t happy.
“I was at a point in my career where I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled,” he recalled.
Ewing explained that he had always pictured himself being a teacher, but the time had never felt right. So, he switched gears and has been in the classroom for more than a decade.
He worked in Seattle for eight years, five in Washington, D.C. and the past two in the Bronx. Not only does he work in the Boogie Down, but he resides in the borough as well.
“Science, math and art have always been a huge passion of mine,” he stressed. “I’ve always taught in neighborhoods that come with a lot of challenges.”
Ewing explained that he brings his artistic background to the classroom. He is always trying to make class fun and meet the students on their level.
“I’m not afraid of putting on a costume or acting silly,” he stated. “I do whatever needs to be done to make sure the students are engaged. I can’t assume they’re going to learn the way I learned.”
Over the years his dedication to education has not gone unnoticed. Ewing was the 2015 Henry Ford Innovative Teacher of the Year, 2014 MOHAI Teacher of the year and the recipient of numerous other accolades.
But when the pandemic arrived everything changed. He had never taught remotely and his students were dealing with unprecedented loss and emotional stress at home.
However, he found ways for the children to do assignments using the bare essentials found in their home and kept them entertained doing fun video presentations.
Even with the school year wrapping up in a couple of months, he is still showing his students how much he appreciates them. His fourth-grade class is about to finish its poetry writing unit and instead of putting the work on a bulletin board, all of their free-verse poems about social and global issues/change will be broadcasted on every LINKNYC board throughout the Bronx.
“This is how you empower scholars to learn and build confidence,” Ewing commented.
In addition to making learning fun during COVID-19, Ewing was also there to help the community. Through his circle of friends, they collected enough money so all of his students would have a turkey for Thanksgiving.
On top of that, he purchased dinner for nearby health care workers.
“For me, it was just something I do,” he explained. “I grew up in a family where you do for others. I know every day that the choice to be an educator is the best choice I ever made.”