New York City Science and Math Teachers Receive Prestigious Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics

Winners Inspire Students to Excel in Science and Mathematics through Rigorous and Innovative Education

Seven Recipients from Schools Across the City Honored by the Fund for the City of New York in Ceremony Attended by NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

The Fund for the City of New York announced las week the seven recipients of the ninth annual Sloan Awards for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. The awards recognize New York City public high school teachers who exceed expectations in the classroom to advance student success. Recipients of the award are committed to making mathematics and science comprehensible and compelling, while also achieving superb academic results.

“This year’s winners bring excitement, rigor, innovation, and commitment into their classrooms. Their students develop confidence and a life-long love of science and mathematics,” said Mary McCormick, President of the Fund for the City of New York. “These teachers are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night to help their students achieve success. They are revered and beloved.”

These extraordinary teachers teach students from all over the world who speak over 50 languages. In a school system with over 400 high schools, with schools sizes ranging from 400 to 4,000 students, this year’s winners are truly exemplary.

The award winners—who were chosen from applications submitted by students, teachers, parents and administrators from schools throughout the five boroughs—will be honored at a ceremony held on December 4, 2017. Each teacher will be awarded a prize of $5,000 and each school will receive $2,500 to strengthen their school’s science or mathematics department.

“I congratulate these talented educators, whose passion and commitment to teaching has changed the lives of many students,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “We’re grateful for their ongoing dedication to serving students and families across New York City.”

The winners are:

●      Wendy Dunson-DelValle, Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn

●      Jason Garofalo, Marble Hill High School for International Studies, Bronx

●      Martina Gately, James Madison High School, Brooklyn

●      Erica Guzmán, Civic Leadership Academy, Queens

●      William Lynam, Gotham Collaborative High School, Bronx

●      Krishna Mahabir, Grover Cleveland High School, Queens

●      Hyungmin Park, New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m), Manhattan

To qualify, a teacher must have taught math or science in New York City high schools for at least five years and must demonstrate excellence in teaching and in achieving results. The winners are chosen by an independent panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators. More on the award and evaluation criteria can be found at

Sloan Teaching Award Winners

Wendy Dunson-DelValle

Brooklyn High School of the Arts, Brooklyn

Living Environment, Environmental Geology

Wendy DelValle entered college planning to be an opera singer, but decided to pursue her interests in science and teaching instead. Since 2002, with degrees in Biology and Secondary Education, Ms. DelValle has taught science at Brooklyn High School of the Arts. She brings the scientific world to her classroom through guest lectures and innovative experiments. She teaches students that science is a field where not all questions have answers and that scientific knowledge is essential for all human endeavors. Says an Assistant Principal, “Wendy is creating globally educated, scientific citizens.” But, she is also providing her students with the science to affect change locally. Says senior Timothy Johnson, “She is great at arming her students with the scientific knowledge necessary to be strong change-makers in our own communities.”

Jason Garofalo

Marble Hill School for International Studies, Bronx

Algebra 2

An innovative math educator and a Math for America Master Teacher, Jason Garofalo creates a collaborative environment in his classroom. Students work together on engaging problems to explore mathematics while developing their understanding of the subject. For his students, many of whom are English Language Learners who speak Spanish, Yemeni, Bengali or West African dialects, his classes are part seminar and part mathematical workshop, where the focus is not on the right answer, but on robust comprehension. Says one student, “My brain often hurts in that class, but I feel better for it.” A recent graduate, who received a four-year scholarship to Hamilton College, notes “I came to the US when I was 14 from the Dominican Republic. To find someone in my first year in high school who was ready to believe in me was a special gift.”

Martina Gately

James Madison High School, Brooklyn

Algebra 1

A math teacher in Dublin, Martina Gately came to NYC in 2002, planning to stay only a short time. She was hired to teach math at James Madison HS in Brooklyn, a large high school with 4,000 students, After six months, she knew she had found a perfect fit and has been there ever since. “Her classroom is simply magical,” says Principal Jodie Cohen. “Students undergo transformations from shy, quiet, and shakily-confident to active, confident and able mathematicians.” Notes John Wolfe, AP for Math, “Martina is a stand out. From her ability to reach students, to her openness as a department collaborator, to the way she is willing to try new things as an educator.” A former student Steven Herbst, who now teaches chemistry at James Madison, says, “I want to be the kind of life-changing teacher for my students that Ms. Gately was for me.”

Erica Guzmán

Civic Leadership Academy, Queens

AP Calculus AB, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus

The second youngest of six children, Erica Guzmán was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. She earned her BA from City College and became a NYC high school math teacher in 2005. Now at Civic Leadership Academy in Queens and a Math for America Master Teacher, Ms. Guzmán assigns students to work in groups that change daily, depending on who needs what. Says a current student, “When we walk into class, we know the first thing we have to do is check to see where we are sitting. It keeps us on our toes.” Ms. Guzmán reflects, “If I can convince students that hard work and dedication are what gets you far in life and that natural talent or circumstances alone will not do that, my class will have been a success. Helping a student who has struggled to succeed is all the motivation I need.”

William J. Lynam

Gotham Collaborative High School, Bronx

Environmental Science, Agricultural Science Internship Program

“Bill’s class is like the lair of a mad scientist,” notes a student at Gotham Collaborative HS in the Bronx. William Lynam, a former Urban Park Ranger and Peace Corps Volunteer with a BA in Wildlife Management and a MS in Forestry, has taught science for over 20 years. He says, “If you do not experiment, if you do not have a connection to what you are learning, your view of science is skewed to thinking it belongs only in a textbook.” The crown jewel of his course is the 3-acre garden and orchard he created from an abandoned lot. It has over 250 fruit trees, an organic vegetable garden, and chickens, rabbits, bees and mushrooms. With his rigor and seemingly endless patience, his students learn first-hand about biodiversity, botany, sustainability and the principles of biology and chemistry.  They also learn the skills needed to succeed in life.

Krishna Mahabir

Grover Cleveland High School, Queens

Physics I, Robotics, Geo Hazards

Described by a colleague as “…the most revered teacher I’ve ever worked with, revered by students and teachers alike,” Krishna “Maha” Mahabir has taught science for 18 years at Grover Cleveland HS in Queens. Originally from Guyana, Mr. Mahabir, a trained geologist, has fostered student interest by reviving science competitions and opening them up to the school’s large population of newly-arrived immigrants. The results have been spectacular. In the NYS Science Olympiad and in the City Regional Bridge Building Competition, Grover Cleveland has consistently won against students from elite schools. Says one student, “The competition gave me a sense that I belonged. Maha taught me how I could take on scary challenges with confidence. His class is not something we had to attend, but a place we were privileged to visit day in and day out.”

Hyungmin Park

New Explorations into Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m), Manhattan

AP Physics 1, AP Physics C

Hyungmin Park was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to Queens at the age of 4. An excellent math and physics student, Mr. Park graduated with honors in physics from Caltech and has dedicated himself to sharing his own love of learning and physics to high school students. After earning an M.S. in Science Education in 2011, he began teaching at NEST+m. He prepares students for success through hands-on projects and popular after-school tutoring sessions: 96% of physics students pass the Regents Physics exam as 9th graders, and his students’ AP score average is 1.30 higher than the global average. Mr. Park says, “Although I am a science teacher, my main motivation is to create critical, self-sufficient learners who have the skills to question everything around them and to learn how to find answers on their own.”


The Fund for the City of New York was established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Its Cash Flow Loan Programs lend about $80 million a year to over 300 nonprofits in no-interest bridge financing, and its Partner Project Program supports over 80 nonprofit enterprises that focus on issues ranging from problem-solving courts, to the creation of new parks, to the reduction of asthma rates in disenfranchised communities. These and other initiatives work to achieve better outcomes for New York City’s children and youth, families and communities, and the city as a whole.


The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic nonprofit institution established by Alfred P. Sloan in 1934. Its main programs involve science and technology, standard of living and economic performance, education and careers in science and technology, selected national issues, and a civic program. The goal of a civic program is to contribute to New York City by responding to social opportunities the city presents, and by funding high-leverage programs related to its area of interest. The Sloan Public Service Awards, presented annually by the Fund for the City of New York, have been part of its civic program since 1985.