BY JON CRONIN
Michelle Lee, a dual-language teacher at PS 163, had no idea what was in store when New York City School’s Chancellor Richard Carranza visited her school on May 11.
Carranza entered Lee’s classroom on the second floor of the Flushing school at midday on Friday. Lee’s students were learning a lesson in Mandarin and English when Carranza dropped by and told them, “There are 79,000 teachers in New York City, and only 17 get the Big Apple Award–and she’s one of them.” Lee’s students cheered with administrators who had gathered as Carranza presented her with a big apple.
Carranza noted that along with being recognized for excellence as a teacher, Lee will assist him in creating policy for the city.
According to the city Department of Education’s website, the process to pick this year’s Big Apple winners spanned months. Teachers are nominated by students, parents, co-workers or administrators. The applicants are then sorted by a panel and observed in the classroom.
Lee said that she tries to bring as many resources as possible to her students.
“No matter who they are, I want them to succeed in my room,” she said. “I am so honored to be recognized.”
“We’re honored by you,” Carranza told her.
Lee’s students told Carranza that the instructor is an incredible teacher due to her ability to reach students, regardless of their backgrounds.
In her dual-language classroom, Lee has both native Mandarin speakers and those who are new to the language. On some days class is taught in English, and on others in Mandarin. Her students said that she has patience with students’ language abilities.
Lee is a native of Taiwan and moved to the United States to study. This is her 11th year of teaching Mandarin and English.
She said that when she becomes part of the chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Group next year, she intends to advise primarily on how to educate students in bilingual education and prepare them for a global society.
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.