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Jo Ann Westhall inspires her students at PS 31, Queens, to think big. “If you ca

Starting young

For Jo Ann Westhall, an elementary school education includes reading, writing, arithmetic — and computer science. Westhall, a computer science teacher and the chapter leader at PS 31 in Bayside, Queens, brought a subject reserved for middle and high school students to children as young as 4 years old.

A student shows off the eyeglasses she received thanks to the efforts of West Pr

A visionary

Nicole Feliciano, a teacher and chapter leader at West Preparatory Academy on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, 
is the recipient of a 2019 Big Apple Award for helping students get much-needed eye exams and prescription eyeglasses.

Betances (right) was on hand to congratulate Hans at the award presentation.

‘I wanted to be like her’

Yadira Hans is a 4th-grade teacher at PS 249 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and one of this year's Big Apple Award winners. PS 131 teacher Anita Betances, who taught Hans third grade, set her on her path.

Every student gets a chance to participate in the morning routine.

‘Teaching is her life’

Zenzile DaBreo, a kindergarten teacher at PS/IS 109 in Brooklyn, was honored with the Sanford Teacher Award as the “most inspirational teacher” in New York State. “We only have two rules in my classroom: be respectful and be responsible,” she says.

Viral lesson

Paraprofessional Hollie Tubbs of PS 231 in Brooklyn set out to inspire her students during Black History Month but she ended up inspiring people across the world after a photo went viral on social media.

Jonathan Rothman (left), the winner of a 2018 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teac

Creating problem-solvers

“My goal is that students start to see themselves as problem-solvers, and that there’s a process by which we approach problems using the lens of the tools we have in class,” says Academy for Software Engineering in Manhattan teacher Jonathan Rothman, who was awarded a 2018 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics.

A paragon of activism

As paraprofessionals celebrate 50 years in the UFT, members can thank Velma Hill, the chapter’s founder and first chair, for leading the charge to uplift paras and their communities by transforming their job into a secure union career.

Encouraged by their sister Susan O’Rourke (second from right), a school secretar

Para family trees

Susan O’Rourke, a school secretary at PS 23 on Staten Island, encouraged her three older sisters to become paraprofessionals.

Anthony Sanchez, his wife, Alejandra, and his mother, Juana, are all paraprofessionals in schools in Queens.

Christina Cingari and her daughter, Brianna, are both paraprofessionals who followed in the footsteps of their mother and grandmother, Mary Valva, now retired.

William Green engages with his AP chemistry students.

‘It gets better’

In William Green’s AP chemistry classroom at Frederick Douglass Academy III in the South Bronx, every student-teacher interaction is deeply informed by Green’s journey from homelessness to becoming a finalist for the 2019 New York State Teacher of the Year.
Third graders move to Mozart.

Classical appreciation

In Evan Alboum’s music class at PS 305 in Ridgewood, Queens, students at every grade level learn to know and appreciate classical music through all their senses. He begins the study of each piece of classical music with movement he choreographs.