I Touch the
Future; I Teach
in the title are those of Christa McAuliffe, the imaginative
and daring teacher who went up in a space shuttle that plunged
to earth in a ball of flame. Those words inspired me to think
of a way to honor outstanding teachers in New York City who
are influencing the next generation of students.
When we talk about standards, about producing readers and leaders, we must
talk about the teachers providing the motivation, the academic
excellence and mentoring that is so vital to education.
Three years ago, I requested that principals and assistant
principals nominate outstanding teachers in their schools
and fill out a form online with certain criteria. I then
assembled an Advisory Board with Laurie Tisch, Dr. Charlotte
Frank, Dr. Alfred Posamentier, Dr. Augusta Souza Kappner
and Adam Sugerman to judge the entries each month. In June
of 2002, we had our first awards breakfast honoring teachers
from all parts of the city who had appeared in Education
Update each month.
foundations and philanthropists renewed their support for
the third year.
keynote speakers this year were Schools Chancellor Joel
Klein and CUNY Vice-Chancellor Jay Hershenson. Among our
honored guests were Dr. Selma Botman, CUNY Executive Vice-Chancellor
of Academic Affairs, Alice Belgray, Chairperson, Children’s
Book Committee at Bank Street College, Dr. Maritza Macdonald,
Director of Education at the American Museum of Natural History,
Dr. Merryl Kafka, Curator of Education, New York Aquarium
and Natalie Anersen, VP for Education, the New York Botanical
We were also
honored to have President Carolyn Williams, Bronx Community
College and President Delores Fernandez, Hostos Community
College as well as Superintendent Susan Erber, District 75,
Amidst a group of 150
attendees, each teacher was called to have a gold medal bestowed
upon him/her by Hershenson and Botman as well as the sponsors.
Many principals came with their teachers.
Recently, I was honored to be a judge at the New York Academy of Science
for the Nobel Laureate Essay Contest. The three winning
high school students will be sent by the Swedish Consulate
to the Nobel ceremonies in Stockholm next year. In speaking
to the students, I noted a common thread: the inspiration,
guidance and support they were receiving from their teachers.
In each case, their teachers arranged for them to do advanced
research in a hospital or university lab, while providing
continuous mentoring along the way.
year, 2005, marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s
publication of The Theory of Relativity. Imagination, Einstein
felt, was more important than knowledge. The Outstanding
Teachers of New York City excel in stimulating students’ imaginations,
in helping them see the poetry of life, in inviting them
into the realms of the unknown to discover their own ultimate
is about time we recognized these unheralded teachers in
New York City.#