July 5, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
A Lindenwood teacher recently won a $25,000 cash prize for her teaching excellence at a local elementary school.
Cheryl Rizzo, an English Language Arts middle school teacher at P.S. 232, was awarded with the FLAG Award for Teaching Excellence, an award that recognizes “creativity and passion” that goes to one teacher in each of the five boroughs.
In addition to the cash prize, she has a $10,000 grant to spend on the school .
Rizzo was commended for using the school’s outdoor reading garden to teach students about caring for nature. The garden was also used to inspire students in their creation of art pieces.
State Senator Joseph Addabbo, who met with Rizzo at his office last week, said she “exemplifies what it means to be a teacher and I am proud to have her teaching in my district.”
Rizzo was also credited with helping put together the school’s “Cookies and Conversations” after-school program to promote literacy. In addition, she coordinated a fundraiser for the Dolly Parton Foundation, which gifts books to children up to age five and grants scholarships.
She says she plans to spend the $10,000 on remodeling the school’s reading garden with new benches and other artistic upgrades.
Five teachers won the prize that Rizzo received, while 10 finalists each won $10,000, plus $2,000 for their respective schools. Nearly 1,000 teachers were nominated for the award by students, parents, principals and their fellow teachers.
Bertha Kurmen Leiva of the East River Academy in Flushing was the only finalist from Queens.