BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Two Queens teachers were awarded on Monday night for inspiring students to excel in science and math during the ninth annual Sloan Awards ceremony, which recognizes seven New York City public high school teachers annually who have exceeded expectations in advancing their students’ success in the classroom.
The Queens award winners were Erica Guzmán of Corona’s Civic Leadership Academy and Krishna Mahabir of Ridgewood’s Grover Cleveland High School. Both teachers were chosen from among applications submitted by students, teachers, parents and administrators from more than 400 high schools across the city.
“This year’s winners bring excitement, rigor, innovation and commitment into their classrooms,” said Mary McCormick, president of the fund for the City of New York. “Their students develop confidence and a lifelong love of science and mathematics. These teachers are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night to help their students achieve success.”
Guzmán is an AP calculus AB, algebra 2 and pre-calculus teacher who recognizes her students’ strengths and weaknesses and groups them together each day based on their specific needs. In one of the applications, a student said Guzmán keeps the students on their toes because they never know where they will be seated.
“If I can convince students that hard work and dedication are what gets you far in life and that natural talent or circumstances alone will not do that, my class will have been a success,” said Guzmán.
Mahabir—who has taught physics 1, robotics and geohazards for 18 years—has engaged students by not only bringing back science competitions, but also opening up those competitions to the school’s large population of newly arrived immigrants. Since he brought the opportunity, Grover Cleveland students have consistently defeated students from elite schools in the New York State Science Olympiad and City Regional Bridge Building Competition.
“The competition gave me a sense that I belonged,” a student wrote. “Maha taught me how I could take on scary challenges with confidence.”
Each teacher was awarded a prize of $5,000, while schools received $2,500 to strengthen their science or mathematics departments.