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, which recognizes seven New York City public high school teachers annually who have exceeded expectations in advancing their students’ success in the classroom.
The 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 among applications that were 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 life-long 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. They are revered and beloved.”
Guzmán is an Advanced Placement 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 that 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. “Helping a student who has struggled to succeed is all the motivation I need.”
Mahabir—who has taught physics I, robotics and geo hazards for 18 years—has engaged students not only by bringing back science competitions to his school,l but also opening up those competitions to Grover Cleveland High School’s large population of newly-arrived immigrants. Since Mahabir brought the opportunity to the school, 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 in the application. “Maha taught me how I could take on scary challenges with confidence. His class is not something we had to attend, but a place we were privileged to visit, day in and day out.”
Each teacher was awarded a prize of $5,000, while schools received $2,500 to strengthen their science or mathematics departments.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.