Flushing educator honored with ‘Changemaker Challenge’ award

Andy Yung, a pre-K teacher at The Active Learning Elementary School in Flushing and a “Star Wars” fan, was recognized ahead of a special virtual award show as the culmination of Students Rebuild’s latest initiative. (Photo courtesy of Yung)

A Flushing educator received the “Changemaker Challenge” award from Students Rebuild, a Bezos Family Foundation program that mobilizes young people to take action on the world’s most critical issues. 

Andy Yung, a pre-K teacher at The Active Learning Elementary School in Flushing, was recognized ahead of a special virtual award show at the culmination of Students Rebuild’s latest initiative, the Changemaker Challenge.

The challenge closed on June 4 — the culmination of a nine-month process that brought together students from 55 countries and all 50 states — with Students Rebuild selecting six “changemakers” to honor for their community change efforts, including Yung. Each award recipient will receive $1,000 to further their efforts. 

For Yung, receiving the Changemaker Challenge award was unexpected and amazing, he said. 

“As someone who teaches in the same community I grew up in, I’m donating half of the award to a local nonprofit and am contributing the other half to a college scholarship fund in my school,” Yung said in a statement to QNS.

Yung is honored to work with students, parents and community members with whom he has a shared identity and shared  experiences, connecting with his students and their families in a way that is not easily learned. 

Through DonorsChoose, a U.S. nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects, Yung has been able to turn his classroom into the ideal play-based learning environment for his pre-K students. He has brought in resources that allow them to see themselves in the classroom through the books they read and learning experiences they share.

“This year with my pre-K students working remotely, it’s been more important than ever for me to work with DonorsChoose. Inequity arises in virtual learning without access to the same materials, and it’s not an equal playing field,” Yung said. “Through DonorsChoose, I was able to provide my pre-K students with basic supplies to play with at home and during virtual learning.”

Yung’s experience as a parent has allowed him to experience the sacrifices his parents had to make, and to appreciate and reflect on the difficult ones he does not. He also loves “Star Wars” to the point where he brought the first Jedi Academy to his school — also through DonorsChoose.

The Students Rebuild Changemaker Challenge provides students and educators around the world the opportunity to shine a light on everyday heroes creating change in the midst of unprecedented challenges.

“In this uniquely challenging school year, students and educators have come together to honor the everyday heroes working to spark change in the midst of so many global challenges,” said Leonetta Elaiho, senior program manager of Students Rebuild. “We’re so pleased to honor a few exemplary students and educators with a special award.”

This year’s Changemaker Challenge celebrates the people working to make their local communities better, like caring for others by ensuring access to vaccine appointments for the most vulnerable.

Students Rebuild is partnering with six organizations that are empowering and supporting students and educators all over the world to take action for the challenge, including Creative Reaction Lab, Peace First and DonorsChoose.

Throughout the past school year, more than 975 teams from around the globe created more than 49,000 artistic awards for changemakers right in their own backyard. 

For each award created and shared with Students Rebuild, the Bezos Family Foundation made a $5 donation — $1 million in total — to organizations serving young changemakers working across the globe, and educators leading change in communities throughout the United States.