Staten Island elementary school teacher wins NYC’s prestigious Big Apple award

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Shara Breit, an elementary school teacher at PS 11 in Dongan Hills, was one of 20 recipients of this year’s prestigious Big Apple Awards.

The awards, which were announced by New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks, celebrate the exemplary performance of public school teachers throughout the city that inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich school communities. The Big Apple Awards is a citywide recognition program celebrating New York City public school teachers, who were directly nominated by district leaders and principals.

“The educators being honored as this year’s Big Apple Award recipients are stellar role models for their profession and examples of the type of caring, compassionate staff members we want every student to have,” said Banks. “On behalf of our students, families, and communities, thank you for everything you do for our youngest New Yorkers – we are forever grateful.”

All 20 award recipients were surprised by Banks or another DOE senior leader in-person to honor their incredible work they’ve done this school year and throughout their tenure as educators. The recipients include 13 classroom teachers, 4 arts teachers, a pre-K teacher, a physical education teacher, and a charter school recipient.

According to the Department of Education (DOE), Sharon Breit is a fourth-grade teacher who believes that student “voice and choice” are paramount in her classroom pedagogy.

When entering her classroom, one can immediately recognize the relaxed atmosphere and culture that invites all students to success. All students in her classroom are provided with enrichment opportunites, and projects created in collaboration with her students have gone schoolwide.

According to the DOE, Breit also recognizes the importance of engaging families in their child’s education. She invited families to “Parents as Learning Partners” lessons, which are interactive and continued throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic virtually. Some parents even reached out to school leadership to request their child continue to learn remotely with Breit because they did not want to leave her or her online platform.

Breit also serves as a Grade Team Leader, social and emotional learning (SEL) coordinator, and data specialist. As a data specialist, she works to find the best instructional practices that evoke the highest levels of student achievement.

The Big Apple Awards is the culmination of a rigorous selection process that includes community nominations, principal recommendations, classroom visits, an interview, and a review by a board of judges. The awards are made possible in part by private support through the Fund for Public Schools — the city Department of Education’s (DOE) nonprofit fundraising partner — which facilitates sponsored awards and ensures all recipients receive a classroom grant.

Next school year, the 20 award winners will serve as Big Apple Fellows and will meet monthly with one another to share ideas and strategies.

They will also be invited to serve on the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Group, which meets bi-monthly and contributes to Department of Education policy.

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