Big Apple Award FAQ

Find answers to many common questions below. If you have further questions, please contact us at

How can I help teachers in my community get nominated?

Anyone can nominate teachers themselves through this website. You can also spread the word by posting a link to this page on social media -- be sure to use #ThankATeacherNYC. Nominations open each fall and are announced through the Department of Education's Facebook and Twitter accounts. The nomination period lasts approximately two months.

What information is required for a nomination?

  • Teacher's name and subject
  • Teacher's school name and borough
  • Teacher’s email address
  • Teacher’s principal or education director's name
  • A brief statement on why your nominee should be considered for the awards (250 words max)

What type of teachers are usually nominated?

Nominees can be any current teacher in a:

  • DOE school
  • charter school
  • early childhood teacher (who teaches infant, toddler, 3s or 4s) in a NYCEEC, district school, or Pre-K center

When choosing a teacher to nominate, think of who has gone above and beyond to serve their students and school. The Big Apple Awards celebrate educators across the City and honor those teachers who inspire students, model great teaching, and enrich their school communities. Past recipients of the Big Apple Awards have demonstrated exceptional success in the following areas:

  • impact on student learning
  • instructional practices
  • professional contributions to their school community

Can I nominate myself?

Yes, you can.

Can I nominate more than one teacher?

Yes, you may nominate as many teachers as you like for this award. You will need to submit a separate nomination for each teacher you would like to be considered.

Who will see my nomination information?

The Big Apple Awards team and review committee will have access to nomination information. Nominations are accepted anonymously, and your nominee will not be given your name without your permission. It is possible that statements from nominations will be used anonymously on social media for the promotion of the awards program.

What happens after a teacher is nominated?

It’s a five-step process that takes many months—and it all starts with you!

  1. Nominations: Students, families, administrators, and community representatives can all nominate a teacher from their school.
  2. Nomination Review: The selection committee reviews all nominations and invites 1,000 nominees to apply for the award.
  3. Application Review: A DOE committee reviews the applications based on the selection criteria listed below.
  4. Finalists: Up to 250 applicants are invited named as Finalists. These Finalists are recognized as exemplary educators, and get either interviewed or visited by their superintendent’s review team.
  5. Board of Judges: the Board of Judges reviews the finalists and recommends final recipients for the Chancellor's approval.

What does it mean to be a Big Apple Award winner?

Recipients receive surprise classroom visits from the Chancellor, Deputy Chancellors, and other members of the NYC education community, notifying them of their award. This allows us to honor and celebrate these exceptional teachers with their students and colleagues.

That next year, they serve as Big Apple Fellows, in addition to continuing their amazing work in the classroom, they serve on the Chancellor's Teacher Advisory Group. They meet monthly to develop their leadership skills and expertise in education.

Who is funding the Big Apple Awards?

The Big Apple Awards are made possible through generous funding from The Fund for Public Schools, Lincoln Center Education, and New York Road Runners. Previous Year sponsors include:

  • Leonard and Louise Riggio
  • HBO
  • the Centerbridge Foundation
  • the New York Mets
  • STATE Bags
  • Modell’s Sporting Goods.
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