City honoring 20 teachers with Big Apple Award for going above and beyond for their classes

Central Park East High School teacher Ivelisse Ramos Brannon is the second educator to receive their Big Apple Award this year. (Photo courtesy of the New York City Department of Education.)

The New York City Department of Education is awarding 20 k-12th grade educators this year with Big Apple Award including a teacher who created online classes for her students’ parents to help with remote learning, an instructor who set up an online video game league to help to build friendships between students during isolation and an elementary school dance instructor who made a film of her students’ virtual performance pieces to showcase their talents. 

Since 2012, the Schools Chancellor has given the award to educators who have gone above and beyond to inspire students, lead school communities or ensure their students are learning course material. This year’s winners were chosen by a panel of fellow “Big Apple” winners, teacher union representatives and DOE staffers from a pool of 11, 328 nominations and include 10 classroom instructors, two special education educators and a bilingual education teacher. 

In addition, this year’s “Big Apple” class also includes four Arts Education Awards in dance, music, theater and the visual arts as well as a physical education award and a pre-k award. All award winners were either surprised by an in-person or virtual visit from Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter this year and will be a part of her teacher advisory council this upcoming school year which meets bi-monthly and contributes to DOE policy decisions. 

“I am so proud to call the teachers of New York City my colleagues. They met the challenges of this pandemic with creativity, perseverance, and humanity – serving our young people remotely and in-person,” said Schools Chancellor Porter. “This year’s Big Apple Award winners represent everything great about our educators and the incredible diversity of experience and backgrounds they bring to our schools. I look forward to working with them on the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Council over the next year.”  

Here is the full list of this year’s winners: 


Ivelisse Ramos Brannon 

English Language Arts & AP Language and Composition 

Central Park East High School (04M555) 



Jonathan Schulman 

4th Grade Civics and Sustainability/English Language Arts and Debate 

P.S. 110 – The Monitor School (14K110) 



Melisande Bolano  

Elementary, Dual Language 

P.S. 76Q William Hallet School (30Q076) 



Virginia Ford  

Special Education 

Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science (09X241) 



Sasha Roopchand  

Physical Education & Health Education 

The Brooklyn Green School (16K898) 



Azucena Quintuna  

Elementary ENL/Bilingual Education Teacher  

P.S. 108 Sal Abbracciamento (19K108)  



Krystal Chong 

8th Grade Mathematics & Algebra I  

Madiba Prep Middle School (16K681)  



Catherine Blades 


J.H.S. 383 Philippa Schuyler (32K383)  



Jamala Roper 

Fifth Grade Literacy 

P.S. 179 (07X179)  



Kim Wojcieszek  


P.S. 100 The Coney Island School (21K100)  



Charan Morris  

English Language Arts 

Vanguard High School (02M449)  



Michele Nelson 

Early Childhood, Infants and Toddlers 

LYFE Program, Telecommunications High School (79M984)  



Jennifer Schecter 

Instrumental Music 

M.S. 158 Marie Curie (26Q158)  



Alanna O’Donnell 

Special Education, High School 

P.S. K721 – Brooklyn Occupational Training Center (75K721)  



Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo  

English Language Arts 

Staten Island Technical High School (31R605)  

Staten Island 


Meghan Brady 

Elementary School 

P.S. 153 Helen Keller (11X153)  



Michael Gentils 


P.S. 288 The Shirley Tanyhill (21K288)  



Frankelly Fernandez  

AP World History, Global Studies  

New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science II   



Deborah Rich 

Visual Arts 

P.S. 161 Arthur Ashe School (28Q161) 



Sonia Hurdle 


I.S. 392 (23K392) 


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