Big Apple Awards

The Office of Teacher Leadership (OTL) oversees both Teacher Career Pathways (TCP) and Big Apple Awards (BAA) programs. For questions about either program, reach out to us at teacherleadership@schools.nyc.gov.

What are the Big Apple Awards?

The Big Apple Awards recognize and celebrate New York City teachers who:

  • inspire students

  • model great teaching

  • enrich their school communities


By honoring these teachers, we recognize all those who go above and beyond to serve our students and families!

2020-2021 Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Council Memos

BAA Fellows are currently participating in the Chancellor's Teacher Advisory Council, where they engage with Chancellor Carranza and DOE leadership to advise on key school matters. Read the memos below to learn more about the work being done this year.

BAA_CTAC Memo 1_Family Engagement_2020.11.23.pdf

November 2020

Family Engagement

BAA_CTAC Memo 1_Focus Group A_Learning Management Systems_2020.12.17.docx.pdf

December 2020

Learning Management Systems

BAA_CTAC Memo 1_Focus Group B_Parent University_2020.12.17.docx.pdf

December 2020

Parent University

BAA_CTAC Memo 2_Curriculum Pedagogy & Assessment.pdf

February 2021

Curriculum, Pedagogy, & Assessment

Learn more about the Big Apple Awards

Leadership Skills...

“Being a Big Apple Fellow has given me the opportunity to learn more about myself as a teacher leader and aspiring school leader. The Fellowship Year experience is an exemplary model for adult learning. Through self-assessment, reading, workshops, group support, and reflection, I have been able to harness my strengths to become a more effective teacher leader. We are invested in authentic work that resonates with us personally, while also connecting us to the broader educational movement in our city."

Big Apple Awards by the Numbers

  • Eight years of recognizing teacher excellence in New York City

  • Nearly 7,000 nominations received in 2019 from students, families, teachers, and community members.

  • 75 percent of schools had at least one teacher nomination. That means three out of every four schools in the city had a nominee!

  • 65 percent of nominations came from you—students and their families.

  • 200+ applicants were recognized as finalists

The Fellows’ Network...

“The Big Apple Fellowship has been a humbling experience. Over the last ten months, there have been so many enriching experiences, but nothing has been more important than the development of a professional community of top-notch teachers. The best part about this community was that it didn’t end when the meeting ended; I had the luxury of having expert teachers at my fingertips for any teaching advice I needed. The ability to work with colleagues from across the city and bounce ideas and information off of each other has been an absolute pleasure. They have helped me grow as a teacher, but more importantly as a leader.”

The Big Apple Awards Selection Process

It’s a multi-step process that takes many months—and it all starts with you! Students, families, administrators, and community members can all nominate any DOE teacher. We then initiate a rigorous selection process that includes multiple stakeholders across the DOE.

Feedback & Reflection...

“The 360 feedback process was incredible in helping me understand how I view myself and my strengths and areas of growth, as well as how my leadership is seen and valued by others. I took away essential understandings of how to improve my leadership style and how to become a more effective leader.”

Why Nominate a Teacher?

  • It’s a great way to show your appreciation for a dedicated teacher!

  • Each nomination helps us learn more about what makes a great teacher—and showcases the incredible work happening in schools citywide.

  • It’s not just about the award recipients: all nominees are considered for additional DOE recognition opportunities, and finalists are recognized by their district superintendent.

  • Big Apple Award recipients are celebrated by the chancellor and may have the opportunity to participate in the Big Apple Fellowship, which includes engagement in leadership development sessions and the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Council.

Thinking in Systems...

“I have learned so much about the DOE, have been inspired by the chancellor and by the other Fellows in my cohort, I learned to advocate for myself and for change, and I learned that there is a greater education world out there outside of my own school. I am so, so grateful and have been deeply impacted by this year. Truly life-changing.”

Receiving the Big Apple Award

Recipients are notified of their award in a surprise appearance from the chancellor, deputy chancellors, and other members of the NYC education community. This allows us to honor and celebrate these exceptional teachers in their teaching environment, sometimes even with their students and colleagues!

Communication Skills...

“I have had the experience to listen and to interact with amazing educators whose passion for teaching is outstanding. By listening to their experience and by engaging in multiple professional developments with them, I have had the opportunity to grow as an educator and as a person. For example, during our PD with New York Peace Institute, I learned how to deliver a message clearly. I learned to think about what I wanted to really say and how I could say it. This helped me deliver clearer messages and share my ideas in a clear and coherent manner.”

Big Apple Award Selection Criteria

The specific criteria used to evaluate Big Apple Award nominees is as follows:

Impact on Student Learning

  • The teacher sets and exceeds standards-driven goals for stellar student achievement (academic, social, and behavioral)

  • The teacher establishes trust with students to allow for true collaboration and broaden impact on student learning

Instructional Practices

  • The teacher uses rigorous instruction through a variety of teaching methods, creates a supportive environment in the classroom that actively engages students in learning, and acts as a collaborative teacher by working with others to innovate and hone their practice

  • The teacher establishes trust with colleagues to allow for true collaboration and strengthen instructional practices

Contributions to School Community

  • The teacher demonstrates effective leadership in and out of the classroom and shows relentless efforts to build strong family-community ties

  • The teacher establishes trust with families and school leaders to allow for true collaboration and expands the impact of the professional contributions

Educational Policy...

“It was an honor to be part of a select group of teachers with access to speak with the Chancellor. We were asked to share our opinions on policies, how we felt certain initiatives were working, and so on. We were also given free time to speak with the Chancellor about issues we were facing in our own teaching careers. The Chancellor shared valuable suggestions on how to troubleshoot problems that we faced. We were able to see that our leader was caring, knowledgeable, and had a strong and clear vision on how to enhance the educational system in New York. It was unforgettable and a highlight of my Big Apple experience!”

Big Apple Awards FAQ