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Seven Brooklyn Teachers Win FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence

Brooklyn’s grand prize winner is Kelly Preston from Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women

The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence has announced the 36 winners of the fifth annual awards program, including six grand prize winners, one from each borough of New York City and one from their new Pre-K to 5th-grade category, who represent the best public school teaching has to offer.

Brooklyn’s grand prize winner is Kelly Preston, who teaches social studies at the all-girls middle and high school, Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. A few years ago, in response to student feedback, she redesigned the social studies curriculum, highlighting more diverse perspectives and subjects and moving from a teacher lecture structure to one that enables student-led learning. In one year, this resulted in a 50% increase in test scores on the Global History Regents. 

Alongside social studies, she promotes civic engagement among students and is the supervisor for the school’s Youth Leadership Council where a group of students successfully advocated City Council members, securing a $90,000 grant to support the Safe Passage anti-violence program, which ensures that children make it home safely after school. She stressed that these accomplishments are attributable to her students, and she is just “providing the space and the someone believing in you that lets you rise to this.” Additionally, her interest in civics has led to a position on the Teacher Leadership Board for Generation Citizen where she provides a teacher perspective for civics-related initiatives that Generation Citizen is implementing nationally. 

“Kelly really has a unique ability to be able to step inside of students' shoes and see from their perspectives what it is they need to learn,” said Kiri Soares, principal at Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. “Kelly understands what is going to get students excited about learning and how she can push each individual, in the specific ways that they need to be challenged, to be able to achieve their best results.”

The FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence received nearly 1600 nominations from students, parents, principals, and colleagues. Thirty-six semifinalists were selected from the nominees, and they were required to complete a comprehensive application, participate in an interview process, which included an interview with their principal, and submit supplementary material.

Each grand prize winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize and their schools will receive $10,000. Additionally, 20 finalists and semifinalists will receive $10,000 and $1,000, respectively, for their personal use, with their schools receiving $5,000 and $1000, respectively.

Additional, Brooklyn finalists are Jennifer Bernstein from P.S 186 Dr. Irving A Gladstone; Melissa Morris from James Madison High School; and Ryan William Mack from P.S. 10 Magnet School of Math, Science, and Design Technology. Brooklyn semi-finalists include Amy Hamberry from PS 56 Lewis Latimer School; Geoffrey Haas from PS 371K Lillian Rashkis; and Kristina Allocco from Brooklyn High School of the Arts.