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Central Park East High School Teacher Receives Big Apple Teaching Award

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A New York City teacher got a big surprise in class Tuesday as she was named among the best of the best in the city; CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports.

Video Transcript

MAURICE DUBOIS: A teacher got quite the surprise today, a huge surprise as she was named among the best of the best in the city.

- CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas takes us to Central Park East High School to show us how she is making a difference.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: Good morning. Ms. Ramos, you are our Big Apple Award winner, 1 of 20 teachers out of over 6,000 who were nominated.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: The shock was written all over English teacher Ivelisse Ramos's face, even through her mask. She was presented a Big Apple Award by schools chancellor Meisha Ross Porter that honors the best teachers in the city during a year that presented unimaginable challenges.

IVELISSE RAMOS: I was like a first-year teacher all over again. So it's been quite a roller coaster, and I'm certain that other people-- other teachers feel similarly.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: But she's no novice, a 13-year vet whose experience helped Central Park East High School pivot during the shutdown.

For years, Ms. Ramos conducted research on digital literacy. So when the pandemic hit, she led the school-wide effort to transition to remote learning immediately, guiding teachers and students along the way.

MEISHA ROSS PORTER: The teachers that we're recognizing this year, besides just being amazing teachers, have been critical in that transition to remote learning.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: When the pandemic forced distancing, Ms. Ramos found a way to stay close.

REANA AKTHAR: The first thing she said was that we're a community. We have to trust each other. And, like, I-- like right away I felt really comfortable around her, and I felt like she was an adult that I can talk to you about stuff outside of school.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Through a computer screen or in person.

ANAHI RAMOS: I think she does a really good job making kids feel seen. It's like that relationship where it's like I see you, I hear you, like, I'm with you.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: For Ms. Ramos, the feeling is mutual.

IVELISSE RAMOS: When I went online and I saw them and heard them, that helped me get through the day, so many days.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Described as a bright light even in dark days.

IVELISSE RAMOS: Teach for action. Teach for resistance. Teach for liberation.

AUNDREA CLINE-THOMAS: Teaching with a passion that sets her apart. In East Harlem, Aundrea Cline-Thomas, CBS2 News.

- The 20 Big Apple Award winners will join the Chancellor's Teacher Advisory Council. They were chosen from thousands of applications submitted by fellow educators and also the community.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Well deserved.

- Congratulations to all of them.

MAURICE DUBOIS: Yes. Loved that moment too.