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Teacher's Best: Qualities that make a winner

Ruby Karp

Ruby Karp Photo Credit: Ruby Karp

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott will announce the recipients of the Big Apple Awards tomorrow. Teachers are nominated by students, parents and colleagues and up to 11 of the city’s more than 75,000 teachers will be recognized for their excellent teaching.

Congrats go to the winners, but everyone has a favorite teacher! amNewYork jogged the minds of several New Yorkers to determine which qualities in a teacher, or professor, leave a lasting impression.

KINDNESS

Approachability and kindness is important to many.

Ruby Karp, 12, Attends middle school on the Upper West Side
“I trust some of my teachers more than some of my friends. I go to them with all my problems and they are so helpful and nice. They understand and they see both sides of the story.” 

Phoebe Moe, 7, P.S. 230, Kensington, Brooklyn
“I like all my teachers! Because they’re all nice! Ms. Gorman is the nicest. I like her because I usually don’t get in trouble.” 

CREATIVITY

Many of the people interviewed said creativity was a teacher’s most important quality. Their ability to relate to students on their own level was essential.

Dylan Efinger, 12, The Center School, Upper West Side
“Mr. Veve and Mr. Holst are my favorite teachers because their styles are very fun and creative and they help engage in the work, so school is actually a really enjoyable experience.”

Molly Cameron, 29, Writer/performer, attended school in Deerfield, N.H.
“My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Waring, let us learn in creative ways. I was once really mad about having to do long division and I said I was going to have a strike on math. And she told me to do it. My friend Heather and I made these big signs and marched around the halls and then the principal listened.”

DEDICATION

Some fondly remember the teachers who went above and beyond their job descriptions.

Dr. Harold Brown, 70, Professor, attended The New School for Social Research
“Seth Benardete, my doctoral thesis adviser, went out of his way for me. He would go over my Ancient Greek translations at his house while he was feeding his baby. He wouldn’t miss a beat. He’d feed the baby and correct the translation, feed the baby and correct the translation. I decided if I ever became a professor that I would be as supportive of my students as he was of me.”

RESPECT

Some of those interviewed said they liked when teachers offered them respect and treated them as equals.

Austin Rodrigues, 32 Actor/writer, attended school in East Longmeadow, Mass.
“Mr. McKinney called all of his students Mr. or Miss as a sign of respect. When you graduated, you shook his hand and he’d call you by your first name and you could call him by his. His name was Charles.”

Rachel DeLetto, 32, Attorney/writer, attended school in Babylon Village, Long Island
“My high school art teacher was Ms. Topazio. She was flamboyant and let us be as wild and free as we could be. I think truly great teachers are kids at heart. They relate to the kids in a noncondescending way and the kids respect them for it. They use fun and creative ways to get the kids to think about the subject and the world.”
 

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