How the Awards Work

About the Big Apple Awards

Big Apple Awards Recipient
2015 Big Apple Award recipient Shani Perez with Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew at the 2015 Big Apple Awards ceremony.

The Big Apple Awards, now in its fifth year, is a citywide recognition program that celebrates the educators of New York City who inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich their school communities. By honoring the success of these teachers, the NYC Department of Education recognizes the countless teachers who go above and beyond to serve our students and families.
 




Big Apple Awards by the Numbers

  • 4,600 nominations received last year from students, families, teachers, and community members.
  • 1,200 schools who had at least one teacher nominated. This is two out of every three schools in the City, with representation from every borough and district.
  • 63% percent of nominations come from our students and families.
  • More than 200 applicants were named District Finalists and engaged with superintendent teams through a classroom visit and/or interview, and were invited to join the citywide Teacher Excellence Network.

The Big Apple Award Selection Process

With thousands of nominations each year, the Big Apple Awards selection process engages educators, principals, superintendents, district staff, and a DOE Board of Judges to thank dedicated teachers, celebrate teaching excellence, and consider candidates for the Big Apple Awards. Learn more by reading details about our process below.

  • Citywide community nomination period: Students, families, administrators, and community representatives can all nominate a teacher from their school community. More than 50 percent of our nominations come from students and families. We are especially interested in recognizing teachers in critical grades and subjects including grades 2, 7, and 10, and also teachers of special education and English Language Learners. Additionally, the Lincoln Center Arts Teacher award honors a dance, music, theater, music or visual arts teacher for a making a difference in the lives of his or her students and for going above and beyond in his or her role as an arts teacher.  
  • Application period: A select group of 1,000 nominees are invited to submit an application. A DOE committee reviews applications for consideration based on the three competency areas listed below.
  • District-level selection: Up to 250 applicants will be invited to the district-level selection stage, which may include an interview and/or classroom visit, led by their superintendent team. These District Finalists are recognized as exemplary educators and invited to join the citywide Teacher Excellence Network. Superintendents will designate up to two finalists per district to submit to the Board of Judges.
  • Board of Judges: A Board of Judges will review the top district-level finalists and recommend final recipients for the Chancellor's approval.


Why Nominate a Teacher? 

  • A Big Apple Awards nomination is a great way to show your appreciation for a dedicated educator who has made an impact on you and/or your school community. 
  • Each nomination contributes to a citywide conversation about teaching excellence and showcases the great work happening in your school community.
  • More than 200 nominees are recognized as District Finalists, who will be engaged at the district level by their superintendents through a classroom visit and/or interview and invited to join the citywide Teacher Excellence Network.
  • Big Apple Award recipients are celebrated by the Chancellor and will spend the 2017-18 school year participating in the Big Apple Fellowship and representing teachers citywide as members of the Chancellor's Teacher Advisory Group.
  • All nominees will be considered for additional DOE recognition opportunities throughout the year.


Benefits of Receiving the Big Apple Award

In June, recipients receive surprise classroom visits from the Chancellor, Deputy Chancellors, and other members of the NYC education community, notifying them of their award. This allows us to honor and celebrate these exceptional teachers in the presence of their students and colleagues.

In the school year following the award, recipients serve as Big Apple Fellows, in addition to continuing their amazing work in the classroom. They serve on the Chancellor's Teacher Advisory Group and meet monthly to further develop and lead through their classroom. Through these experiences, the fellows have a platform to broaden their impact in education.


Learn more about the Big Apple Fellowship Year


Big Apple Award Selection Criteria

During all stages of the process, candidates are selected based on their ability to demonstrate exceptional success in their impact on student learning, in their instructional practice, and in their professional contributions to their school community.

IMPACT ON STUDENT LEARNING INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCHOOL COMMUNITY

Sets and exceeds standards-driven goals for stellar student achievement (academic, social, and behavioral).

Establishes trust with students to allow for true collaboration and broaden impact on student learning.

Uses rigorous instruction through a variety of teaching methods, creates a supportive environment in the classroom that actively engages students in learning, and acts as a collaborative teacher by working with others to innovate and hone their practice.

Establishes trust with colleagues to allow for true collaboration and strengthen instructional practices.

Demonstrates effective leadership in and out of the classroom and shows relentless efforts to build strong family-community ties.

Establishes trust with families and school leaders to allow for true collaboration and expands the impact of the professional contributions.


Big Apple Early Career Excellence Awards

Nominees with less than five years of teaching experience are considered for the Big Apple Early Career Excellence Awards (ECEA). A select group of nominees are invited to apply. The ECEA are a subset of the annual Big Apple Awards. The ECEA are designed to recognize, celebrate, and inspire outstanding early career educators who have taught for five years or less in the NYC Department of Education. ECEA recipients demonstrate high standards for their professional practice, serve as emerging leaders in their school communities, and consistently facilitate student achievement.
 
Learn more about the Big Apple Early Career Excellence Awards

Frequently Asked Questions

Many common questions about The Big Apple Awards are answered below. If you have further questions that are not addressed here, please contact us at teacherexcellence@schools.nyc.gov.

    • How can I help teachers in my community get nominated? 
      Nominations typically open each fall, announced through the DOE's social media accounts. The nomination period will last approximately two months. One way to help your school community nominate teachers for the Big Apple Awards is by sharing, printing, or posting any of the following customized illustrations on social media or in common areas at your school:

                      -
      Post or share this flyer or postcard
                      - Share this graphic on Facebook or Twitter
    • What information is required for a nomination?
      The nominator will be required to indicate the following five items:

      1) Nominated teacher's name and subject
      2) Nominated teacher's school name and borough
      3) Teacher’s email address
      4) Teacher’s principal or education director name
      5) A brief statement on why your nominee should be considered for the awards (250 words max).
    • What type of teachers are usually nominated?
      Nominations for teachers are open citywide. Students, parents, teachers, colleagues, principals, and community members can submit a nomination for a current teacher in a NYCDOE district school, a charter school, or in a pre-kindergarten classroom at a community-based early childhood center by submitting a nomination.

      When choosing a teacher to nominate, think of one who has gone above and beyond to serve their students and school. The Big Apple Awards celebrate educators across the City and honor those teachers who inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich their school communities. Past recipients of the Big Apple Awards have demonstrated exceptional success in the following areas: (I) impact on student learning, (II) instructional practices, and (III) professional contributions to their school community.

      These focus areas are adapted from the NYCDOE’s multi-layered Framework for Great Schools for teachers, implemented by Chancellor Fariña and designed to ensure our educators can meet the core goal of student achievement in all NYC public school classrooms. Learn more about the Framework for Great Schools.
    • Can I nominate myself?
      Yes, self-nominations are accepted.
    • Am I able to nominate more than one teacher?
      Yes, you may nominate more than one teacher for this award. You will need to submit a separate nomination for each teacher you would like to be considered.
    • Who will see my nomination information?
      The Big Apple Awards team and review committee will have access to nomination information. Your nominee will not be made aware of who has nominated them. It is possible that statements from nominations will be used anonymously for the promotion of the award program.
    • What happens after a teacher is nominated?

      Application period: A select group of 1,000 nominees are invited to submit an application. A DOE citywide committee reviews applications for consideration based on the three competency areas listed below.
       
      District-level selection: Up to 250 applicants will be invited for the district-level selection stage, led by their superintendent team. Superintendents will further review these applicants and will submit up to two finalists each to the Board of Judges.

      Board of Judges: A Board of Judges will review the district-level finalists and recommend final recipients for the Chancellor's approval.
       
    • What does it mean to be a Big Apple Award winner?
      In June, recipients receive surprise classroom visits by the Chancellor, Deputy Chancellors, and other members of the NYC education community, notifying them of their award. This allows us to honor and celebrate these exceptional teachers in the presence of their students and colleagues.

      In the school year following the award, recipients participate as Big Apple Fellows in addition to their teaching duties. They serve on the Chancellor's Teacher Advisory Group and meet monthly to further develop and lead through their classroom. Through these experiences, the fellows have a platform to broaden their impact in education.
    • Who is funding the Big Apple Awards?
      The Big Apple Awards are made possible through generous funding from Leonard and Louise Riggio, The Fund for Public Schools, Lincoln Center Education and HBO. Previous Year sponsors include Lincoln Center Education, the Centerbridge Foundation, the New York Mets, STATE Bags and Modell’s Sporting Goods.