Academic News

New York City Department of Education Big Apple Awards Honor 13 CUNY Graduates

June 6, 2017

Chancellor Carmen Fariña presents fifth-grade teacher Keira Dillon with a Big Apple Award. <strong>PHOTO: <em>Courtesy of the Department of Education</em></strong>

Chancellor Carmen Fariña presents fifth-grade teacher Keira Dillon with a Big Apple Award. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Department of Education

Last month the New York City Department of Education announced the recipients of the fifth annual Big Apple Awards, a city-wide recognition program that honors outstanding public school educators. Thirteen of this year’s 19 Big Apple Award recipients are graduates of CUNY colleges—a remarkable proportion that highlights the important partner role that the university plays in preparing teachers to serve in public schools across New York City. The CUNY alumni winners represent nine colleges—Baruch College, Brooklyn College, City College, College of Staten Island, Hostos Community College, Hunter College, John Jay College, NYC College of Technology, and Queens College—where they earned degrees ranging from associate to bachelor’s and master’s. Several hold degrees from more than one CUNY college.

With more than 16,000 students enrolled in its teacher education programs, CUNY serves as the NYCDOE’s largest pipeline of educators and also runs a number of grant-funded programs, research initiatives, and policy efforts related to P-12 education. Given the size and scope of the New York City public schools—the largest in the nation—the university’s channels for training effective educators and supporting innovative teaching and learning are deeply rooted in the university’s mission of serving the city and its citizens.

“Whether these exceptional teachers earned a degree from a CUNY school along their path to becoming an educator or graduated from one of the university’s graduate-level teacher education programs, we are honored and delighted to have played a role in their education and subsequent career success,” said Ashleigh Thompson, CUNY’s University Dean of Education, of the CUNY alumni recipients. “The city is so fortunate to have teachers like these, whose dedication and enthusiasm for the profession is contributing to the lives and trajectories of young New Yorkers in deeply meaningful ways. Congratulations to all of the Big Apple Award winners and thank you for the important work you do every day.”

Yocasty Diaz is a middle school math teacher at I.S. 219 New Venture School in the Bronx, and earned her associate and bachelor’s degrees at Hostos and City College, respectively.

Keira Dillon is a fifth grade gifted and talented teacher at P.S. 163 Alfred E. Smith in Manhattan and earned her master’s degree from Hunter College.

Adriana DiScipio is a teacher of English Language Learners at P.S. 230 Doris L. Cohen in Brooklyn, and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hunter College.

James Harrington is an art teacher at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, and holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Queens College.

Leslie Lehrman is an English teacher at Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology in the Bronx, and holds a master’s degree from Hunter College.

Jessica Martell is a fifth grade teacher at Central Park East II in Manhattan and earned her master’s degree at Hunter College, as well as additional graduate credits at City College.

Katie McArdle is a teacher of elementary school students on the autism spectrum at P.S. K231 in Brooklyn and holds a master’s degree from Hunter College.

Faye Michalakos is a sixth grade math teacher at Hellenic Classical Charter School in Brooklyn and a graduate of the College of Staten Island, where she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Carmen I. Morales is a TASC Preparation Teacher at East River Academy on Rikers Island, where she has spent the last 25 years working with incarcerated students. She earned her bachelor’s degree at City Tech and also attended City College. Read a profile of Carmen “Mindy” Morales in New York Daily News.

Patrick Murphy is a special education teacher at P.S. 199 Maurice A. Fitzgerald in Queens, and earned his bachelor’s degree from Queens College.

Rosario Orengo is a middle school social studies teacher at the Urban Assembly Unison School in Brooklyn, and graduated from John Jay College with her bachelor’s degree and earned her master’s degree at City College.

Diana Shteynberg is a pre-K teacher at Shorefront YM-YWHA in Brooklyn, with a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College.

Binh Thai is a sixth grade humanities teacher at University Neighborhood Middle School in Manhattan, and earned a master’s degree from City College and an additional graduate certificate from Baruch College.