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Local Teacher from Brooklyn Wins National Education Award and Wins $1K for Classroom

Online learning platform Brainly has announced the five winners of its 2020 ‘Online Educator of the Year’ Awards, which were open for submissions last week during Teacher Appreciation Week. Nearly 2,000 nominations and nearly 4,000 total votes were received from Brainly’s student user community. All five winning teachers will be awarded $1,000 to go towards classroom resources in conjunction with Brainly’s partners at DonorsChoose, a featured post on Brainly.com, and a one-year Brainly Plus subscription– not to mention major bragging rights. 

The five outstanding educators being recognized are Mr. Joseph Stivers, a band teacher at Crosby Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky; Ms. Nicole Varugheese, a music teacher at Christa McAuliffe Intermediate School 187 in Brooklyn, New York; Mr. Carl Mahlmann, a math teacher at Lake Cormorant High School in Lake Cormorant, Mississippi; as well as Ms. Carly Meholic (math teacher) and Mr. Steven Hall (history teacher), who both work at Homer-Center Jr/Sr High School in Homer City, Pennsylvania. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced students and educators to adapt, essentially overnight, to the new reality of distance learning and instruction from afar. That’s why, this year more than ever, the folks at Brainly thought it was important to recognize American educators with this award. 

“From weekly talent shows and virtual field trips, to open conversations with students struggling with LGBTQ issues, these educators being recognized are truly exceptional. It’s inspiring to read about how our educators are going above and beyond in their new virtual settings to provide meaningful, accessible learning for all students,” says Eric Oldfield, Chief Business Officer of Brainly.  

To nominate a teacher, students wrote a 4-5 sentence response to the question: “How has an educator been exceptional in your transition to remote learning?” 

For Mr. Joseph Stivers, the winning nomination reads: “I want to nominate  Mr. Stivers because he has always been an influence to me ever since I moved here 3 and a half years ago and still is. He has been doing all kinds of stuff to keep us connected with this virus around. He is my band teacher. So he does talent shows, and he meets us twice a week. We all love him. He does this news thing where he asks students to make their own clips and send it to him and he makes this wonderful video every week. Mr. Stivers helps me and my other classmates. Like one time my family couldn’t afford a field trip and M. Stivers helped by paying for me. I never really got to thank him so this is how I am going to do that. Especially during job loss and stuff. Thank You so much, Mr. Stivers!!!! We all love you!!!”

For Ms. Nicole Varugheese, the winning nomination reads: “Ms. Varugheese has gone above and beyond work hard for her students every day. She inspires me to be a teacher when I grow up. Ms. Varugheese always tries her hardest and has a happy and excited mood to teach her students, even if it’s from home. I really appreciate how she supports LGBTQ+ and is always open for conversation. She really cares about her students and is my teacher role model!” 

For Ms. Carly Meholic, the winning nomination reads: “I’d like to nominate Mrs. Meholic as Onlne Educator of the Year because she is open to solve issues in ways that will help the students while letting them learn at the same time. She is also very devoted to her students. If she sets a goal and it involves them, you can bet that she’ll get to that goal. She also provides challenges for students, and she doesn’t put them down if they feel they can’t reach that goal. She’s an overall amazing teacher who I would love to have again.”

For Mr. Carl Mahlmann, the winning student nomination reads: “He is the best math teacher ever. He is fun, very great with students, and gives a smile to all his students every day. I wish I had him when I was going through elementary school. He has the best attitude and makes learning reachable to all students and teachers. And love his love for superheroes is so the best part of any lesson. Even if you don’t know any superheroes, you understand the point of its purpose for the math lesson.” 

For Mr. Steven Hall, with 164 votes, the winning student nomination reads: “Mr. Hall has done an amazing job helping us learn while we have to stay at home. He always gives us very descriptive directions and is always there if we need help. He makes our assignments challenging enough that we need to think but they are still on our level. He also always provides positive feedback to let us know that we are doing well.”

The students with the top-voted nominations (names will not be publicly announced) will each receive a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, a Codecademy Pro student scholarship, and a one-year Brainly Plus subscription. 

Nominations were open from April 27th to May 8th, 2020, and the winning educators were decided by public student votes. The nominations and votes were open to current U.S. middle-school and high-school students (ages 13 and up). 

The scholarship was in partnership with DonorsChoose, Codecademy, and ClassTag. For more information, visit www.brainly.com.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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