The search is on for nominations for this year’s FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence

New York City’s newest award is a chance to celebrate local public school teachers who use creativity to enhance their teaching.

The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence aims to recognize New York City’s Pre-K through elementary public school teachers. To date, the award has recognized 122 teachers and conferred $1.13 million in cash prizes. This year’s award will present $25,000 cash prizes to six outstanding elementary school educators, and there will be one grand-prize winner in each NYC borough plus one winning PreK-5th grade teacher. 

Glenn Fuhrman, co-founder of the private investment firm MSD Capital, funds the FLAG Award through his philanthropic organization, the Fuhrman Family Foundation. Fuhrman and his wife, Amanda, created the FLAG Award because they have had family members who were teachers and they felt today’s teachers weren’t being as appreciated as they should be.  

FLAG Award winners can choose how to use their awards, and will also receive $10,000 for their schools. Finalists will receive $10,000 each for personal use, and their schools will get $5,000 to establish an arts-based initiative. Semi-finalists will receive $1,000, as will their schools.

“The money that goes to the teacher is totally unrestricted,” said Risa Daniels, co-president of the FLAG Foundation for Excellence in Education. “Teachers can use it to…pay for their kids’ college. They can go on vacation. They can do whatever they want. The money to the school—the idea behind that is that it should be used in some kind of creative way, with some kind of arts focus, with input from the winning teacher, so if the winning teacher is an art teacher, they can use it to buy art supplies. If the winning teacher is a science teacher, maybe they use the funds to create some kind of science project that uses clay or paint, or they create dioramas. It’s pretty broad: The whole idea is just that there is some kind of creativity infused in the use of the award money.”

Full-time New York City public school teachers of grades PreK through 12 can be nominated for a FLAG award by students, parents, school staff, and community members. The online form for nominations is available at Nominations are open until November 23, 2023. 

The qualifications of award nominees will be measured by an independent panel of judges, including Dr. Betty Rosa, commissioner of education and president of the University of the State of New York; Michael Driskill, chief operating officer, Math for America; Bob Hughes, director of K-12 Education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Nisa Mackie, deputy director of learning and engagement the Museum of Modern Art; and Jessica Abrams, a previous FLAG Award winner.

Nominees are assessed “based on their ability to challenge and inspire students, impact the school and community positively, embrace their role as educators, acknowledge the full spectrum of student potential, act as role models, and engage in self-improvement.”

Semi-finalists for the FLAG Award will be announced in January 2024, and the six winners will be named before the end of the academic year.

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