Around the UFT

Hometown Heroes in Education

10 educators recognized

Mulgrew (far left) and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (front, second from righJonathan FickiesMulgrew (far left) and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña (front, second from right) join the honorees and presenters in a group shot.

Masefield shows off a half-dozen eggs from his farm program as he receives his aJonathan FickiesMasefield shows off a half-dozen eggs from his farm program as he receives his award from CUNY Chancellor James Milliken. Ten educators were honored as New York Daily News Hometown Heroes in Education for their special contributions to improving the lives of the city’s public school students at an awards ceremony on Oct. 5 at the Edison Ballroom in Times Square. “You are the educators who give our students the space to feel safe, to grow, to experiment,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “You create the miracles every day inside the classrooms.” Michael Masefield, an English teacher at JM Rapport HS, was one of the honorees. Masefield wanted to give his Bronx students access to fresh food and a break from city life, so he built a farm with a vegetable garden and a chicken coop on school grounds, and taught his students how to grow crops and raise animals. “It was nice to be recognized, mostly because it spread a lot of ideas about what people are doing in different places,” said Masefield. That includes his chicken coop. “I was contacted by a principal in another school, and now I’m working with him to get a chicken coop in his school!” The Hometown Hero award isn’t the first honor for Amy Spears. A math teacher at Louis Armstrong MS in East Elmhurst, Queens, she was a recipient of the UFT’s 2016 Audrey Chasen Award for her contribution to efforts that saved the life of a 6th-grader on Oct. 20, 2016. Spears was in her classroom when the girl fell unconscious in the hallway. The quick-thinking teacher started CPR. At a rally last spring at PS 721, a District 75 school in lower Manhattan, it was obvious to the school community that physical education teacher Joseph Stewart was a hero. Two hundred people cheered the coach and his City Hawks team after their bronze-medal performance in unified floor hockey at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Austria. The team included eight special needs students taught by Stewart, who uses the athletics program to help students with disabilities deal with their challenges. Now PS 721’s hero is a Hometown Hero, too.

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