The power of teamwork was on display at the UFT’s annual Academic High Schools Awards Celebration on April 12 at union headquarters in Manhattan.
“It takes an entire team effort to have a successful school,” said Emmanuel Moshos, a science teacher at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics and one of 12 Excellence in Education Award winners. “You might be a great teacher, but I think you need to be an example for other teachers as well.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew credited that kind of leadership with boosting the performance of the city’s high schools.
“New York City is at its highest graduation rate ever, and you did that,” Mulgrew told the more than 300 UFT members and their guests gathered to honor outstanding public high schools and educators.
“Everyone knows we’re on the same team, everyone knows we have each other’s backs,” said Bayside HS librarian Suzanne Miller, a UFT delegate and one of 12 winners of the Outstanding Union Activist award, given to members who have shown exemplary commitment to the union.
“You have made this work so much more than just a job — it’s a mission,” UFT Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds told the honorees. “Our union is strong because of every one of you. Our achievements have resulted in excellence because of your work.”
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza praised for their selfless commitment the educators who packed the room — including large contingents from honorees Concord HS on Staten Island, DeWitt Clinton HS in the Bronx, Forest Hills HS in Queens and the Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology in Manhattan. “You chose one of the most noble professions and acts of service: teaching the next generation,” he said.
Mildred Van Zwaren, a Spanish teacher at A. Phillip Randolph Campus HS in Manhattan, also was honored with an Excellence in Education Award for tireless work, exceptional skill and dedication to students. Van Zwaren said her commitment comes from recognizing that her job “is not just teaching students a subject, it’s teaching them how to become a young adult.”
The success demonstrated by New York City public school educators makes a powerful argument against those who advocate privatization, said Mulgrew. “What we do in New York City,” he said, “drives all those people nuts.”
Urban Assembly Gateway was one of eight schools that received the Team High School Award for demonstrating excellence in education through collaboration and for promoting a positive school culture. Michelle Jordan, a school secretary at Gateway, credits the faculty’s passion for the school’s success.
They are “very, very vested in these kids, and the kids know it,” said Jordan.