Annual Big Apple Awards honoring outstanding teachers open for nominations

Happy black teacher giving exam paper to her student while wearing protective face mask in the classroom.
Photo via Getty Images

If you know a teacher going above and beyond during an unprecedented school year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can now nominate them for the ninth annual Big Apple Awards.

The Big Apple Awards are a citywide recognition program to honor full-time teachers in the city’s public schools, who demonstrate strong teaching practices and enrich their school communities with strong, rigorous instruction.

“During this pandemic, so much has been asked of our educators and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “Every year I look forward to celebrating and learning from Big Apple Award winners from across the city, and that’s even more true this year. To our students, staff, family members and all New Yorkers: take a moment and nominate a teacher who has made a difference in your life! We can’t wait to recognize the incredible work of our educators.”

Students, families, educators, school staff and community members can nominate teachers and counselors by visiting the Big Apple Awards website at www.schools.nyc.gov/big-apple-awards, from now through Jan. 10, 2021.

Nominees must be current, full-time public school teachers or college counselors in a district school, charter school or early childhood education center in New York City who demonstrate exceptional success in the classroom. Big Apple nominees are reviewed based on their ability to demonstrate exceptional success in three key competencies aligned with the “Framework for Great Schools”: impacting student learning, demonstrating strong instructional practice and contributing to their school community.   

Following the nomination period, principals recommend a top nominee from their school to be considered for a Big Apple Award. Top nominees are reviewed by district superintendent teams and asked to highlight their accomplishments through an interview and classroom visit. Each district selects a winner to advance to the next round, where the Board of Judges determine participants for the following year’s Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Council. The recipients will represent teachers citywide during the 2021-22 school year as Big Apple Fellows, while continuing to educate their students in the classroom.

Last year, a board of judges comprised of DOE officials and representatives from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Fund for Public Schools selected 19 award recipients — including one special education teacher in Jamaica, Queens — from nearly 7,000 nominations, triple the number of nominations received in the first year of the awards. The nominations came from 75 percent of schools across the city and approximately 65 percent of nominations were submitted by students, families and community members.

Chancellor Carranza, the deputy chancellors, and members of his cabinet surprised the 19 educators in a virtual meeting on the last day of school.

“New York City educators have always been a lifeline for students and their families, and that has never been truer than now,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The Big Apple Awards are an opportunity for all of us to say, ‘Thank you,’ ‘We appreciate you’ and ‘We couldn’t have made it this far without you.'”

The Big Apple Awards are made possible, in part, by private support through the Fund for Public Schools.

Last year’s Big Apple Award recipients are currently serving as Big Apple Fellows and meet monthly with one another. The Advisory Council meets bi-monthly to further impact policy across the DOE.

The Big Apple Awards has recognized 124 outstanding educators since the award’s inception in 2013. Those educators come from schools and neighborhoods across the city, and represent a variety of subject areas, experience and backgrounds.