Five New York City public school teachers win FLAG award for excellence

Teacher Joshua Modeste wins FLAG award for teaching excellence.
Courtesy of FLAG

Five outstanding teachers from each New York City borough were awarded the FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence. Each teacher will receive a $25,000 grand prize, with each of their respective schools also receiving a $10,000 grant.

This year marks the third FLAG award and each year over 1,000 teachers are nominated by parents, students, principals and other teachers. 

35 semifinalists were selected from the nominees and were then required to complete an application, participate in an interview and submit supplementary material. 

The winners announced June 22 were Anastasia Difino, an English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at PS 120 in Queens; Joshua Modeste, a science teacher at The Urban Assembly School for Global Commerce in Manhattan; Persephone DaCosta, a dance instructor at Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn; Laurie D’Amico, a music teacher and marching band director at Tottenville High School in Staten Island; and Cheriece White, an art teacher at The Metropolitan Soundview High School in the Bronx.

“Public school teachers are among the most important pillars of our communities. They make sacrifices year-round to educate and mold our children into the next generation of productive members of society,” said Glenn Fuhrman, Co-Founder of The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence. “This year’s winners exemplify the best of the teaching profession. The teachers we got to know through this process all put forth a phenomenal effort to create environments where their students learn and grow and it is an honor to recognize these individuals.”

An independent jury of education, community and philanthropic leaders selected the winners of this year’s FLAG award based on criteria that emphasized and supported student experience. 

“This year’s winning educators proved themselves to be outstanding individuals who had a tangible impact on the lives of their students,” said Risa Daniels, Co-President of The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence.

Recipients of the award expressed their excitement and gratitude at being selected for the award, many saying that receiving the award meant their hard work and dedication was being recognized.

“The work I do, the time and energy I put toward my students and my school community come naturally to me, it never feels like a job,” says Anastasia Difino of PS 120 and FLAG award recipient. “It’s something I love with all my heart – to see their smiles, their growth, to see them shine, to see my school community thrive. Thank you for this recognition and for all you do for teachers that go that extra mile. This is definitely one of the best days of my life!”