FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence nominations now open for extraordinary Queens teachers

Elementary school kids raising hands to teacher, back view
Photo via Getty Images

Nominations are open for this school year’s 2020-2021 FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence, which recognizes and celebrates extraordinary New York City public school teachers across the five boroughs who inspire learning through creativity, passion and commitment. 

Queens students, parents, school personnel, and community members are encouraged to nominate a teacher. The FLAG Award is open to K-12 teachers in public schools. Nominations will close in December, and winners will be announced in June. 

The program is founded by Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman and is funded by The FLAG Foundation for Excellence in Education and by The Fuhrman Family Foundation. It is administered by Co-Presidents Risa Daniels and Laura Twersky. 

“With this award, we honor and celebrate the teachers that go above and beyond in their role as educators and who are impactful mentors for their students,” said Glenn and Amanda. “The COVID-19 pandemic upended the school year last spring and continues to challenge every facet of education this school year. Despite these obstacles, teachers have found innovative and resourceful ways to connect with students and have shown great flexibility in ensuring that students’ needs are met, both in the classroom and remotely.” 

The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence celebrates the work of public school teachers in New York City who devote countless hours to supporting and enriching the lives of their students. The vast majority of Americans rely on public schools where teachers help students thrive despite low budgets, large class sizes, and other obstacles that persist in the public school system, particularly during the current pandemic.

One grand-prize winner from each borough will receive a $25,000 cash prize, and each finalist will receive a $10,000 prize. Each winner’s school will receive $10,000, and each finalist’s school will receive $2,000 for an arts-based initiative that the recipients will create at the school. The school award provides additional resources for arts education, an area that is often underfunded in public schools. 

An independent jury comprised of education, community, and philanthropic leaders, including Betty Rosa, interim commissioner of the State Education Department, will select the winners based on criteria that place emphasis on the student experience.

“I am delighted to return as a jury member for the second year of the FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence and to play a role in expanding this initiative to the entire city,” Rosa said. “So many teachers across New York create a wonderful student experience and deserve to be recognized through this award. I look forward to beginning our selections process and celebrating the work of teachers who are dedicated to their students and community.” 

Last year’s winner, Dr. Lou Lahana who teaches at PS/MS 188 in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, will also serve as a member of this year’s jury. Lahana was recognized last year for his commitment to helping his students tackle real-world problems, using technology to explore social issues of their choice and create projects to help address those issues.  

Nominations are open now and will close Dec. 15. Semi-finalists will be notified in February. Current full-time teachers in NYC public schools, grades k-12, with at least five years of classroom experience are eligible to be nominated. 

From the nominees, select candidates will be asked to fill out an additional application, be interviewed, and provide letters of endorsement. The jury will select one grand prize winner from each of the five boroughs. 

The criteria for the ideal candidate includes: 

  • Challenges and inspires students of all abilities, utilizing innovative teaching techniques and approaches to curricula and activities.
  • Reaches out beyond the classroom, making a positive impact on the school and the community.
  • Embraces their role as an educator with tireless, devoted dedication.  
  • Acknowledges the full spectrum of potential in each and every student.
  • Teaches through example, as a leader and role model both inside the classroom and out.
  • Engages in opportunities for self-improvement and continues to learn, grow, and develop as a teacher.