Whitestone educator honored for commitment to students during Teacher Appreciation Week

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From left to right, Councilman Paul Vallone, P.S. 193 educator Megan Basaldua, and McDonald’s Owner/Operator Patrick Miller. (Courtesy of New York Edge)

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, a local McDonald’s owner honored a Whitestone educator for New York Edge — the city’s largest provider of after-school programming — for her unwavering commitment to her students and their families, particularly amid the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Megan Basaldua, who teaches visual arts and literacy at P.S. 193, and her students were surprised on Wednesday, May 5, with McDonald’s meals from owner/operator Patrick Miller and Councilman Paul Vallone who joined in the celebration. 

“It was such a big surprise. I was really so appreciative,” Basaldua said. “It made my kids’ days just because it can get a little monotonous with school lunch. It was great to see the joy they held of course, and seeing Mr. Patrick Miller coming as a small business owner from McDonald’s and Councilman Paul Vallone, it was a huge treat. I don’t see them much but I know what they do for the community, and it means a lot to me.”

(Courtesy of New York Edge)

As an activity specialist with New York Edge for two-and-a-half years, Basaldua has offered invaluable support and guidance to her elementary school students at P.S. 193 this past year, inspiring them to remain engaged and motivated through the organization’s after-school programs. 

During the beginning of the pandemic, according to Basaldua, it took some time to realize what was happening and to figure out their next move. 

“New York Edge was on top of it offering professional development courses and training that would assist me in becoming a better educator,” Basaldua said. 

As New York City’s entire public school system shut down amid the pandemic and educators were instructed to transition to remote learning, Basaldua said it fueled her ambitions to learn different methods in teaching her students in order for them to express themselves virtually. 

“You don’t have all of the supplies and space and parents may deal with some cleanup and just learning how to relay all of that information to them and me,” Basaldua said. “It’s hard for me to imagine what all of these kindergarten through fifth-graders are going through — when they’re home and see me on a screen. I give them the support that they need through visual arts.” 

As in-person learning has resumed, Basaldua said they are able to do many more things to make the classroom a special environment for the students, such as offering help with homework, providing support and acting like the mentors that they want to be, she said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with children my whole life. I have always been a part of a nonprofit organization or community organization, and majored in arts personally,” Basaldua said. “It’s great to teach kids what I know and am passionate about. I knew that New York Edge taught arts specifically and paid attention to that form of expression and I wanted to be a part of it.” 

Rachael Gazdick, CEO of New York Edge, congratulated Basaldua and the entire team for going above and beyond over this past year to ensure students across New York City continued to have access to the support, resources and guidance they needed to succeed. 

(Courtesy of New York Edge)

“We thank Patrick and McDonald’s for recognizing Megan for her outstanding work in the community, and for supporting New York Edge’s mission to provide students with enriching after-school and summer programs that will help them realize and achieve their full potential,” Gazdick said. 

Miller described Basaldua as a “truly outstanding educator” with New York Edge. 

“In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, it was important for us to show our appreciation for everything she continues to do to support these students, especially during this challenging year,” Miller said. “Educators play such a vital role in building local communities, and McDonald’s is grateful to all teachers across the New York Metro region for their hard work, positivity and commitment.” 

As he acknowledged the work New York Edge does to support youth in Queens and across the city, Vallone said he was proud to join the special program honoring Basaldua for the remarkable impact she’s had on her students. 

“I’d like to thank Patrick Miller and McDonald’s for shining an important spotlight on our city’s teachers, who devote themselves to educating youth and empowering them to achieve their dreams,” Vallone said. 

New York Edge provides thousands of students from more than 100 schools in grades K-12 across the five boroughs with engaging programs designed to enhance their learning, enable them to grow academically and personally, and help them develop the passion and perseverance to meet their goals. From robotics classes, to leadership programs, to chess club, fencing, step club and beyond, New York Edge’s groundbreaking initiatives are customized to integrate the school day curriculum and lead to improved academic performance at every level.