Math for America (MƒA) today announced that middle school mathematics teacher Bushra Makiya, who teaches at CIS 303: The Leadership and Community Service Academy in the Bronx, and high school science teacher Elisa Margarita, who teaches at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, have each been awarded the 2024 MƒA Muller Award for Professional Influence in Education. This honor is given to two New York City public school teachers who, during their tenure as MƒA Master Teachers, have influenced the teaching profession in exceptional ways.

Makiya and Margarita will be awarded $20,000 each during a ceremony on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 as they are recognized for the remarkable work they do to engage students, support colleagues, and exhibit leadership within mathematics and science communities. In addition, $5,000 will be awarded to each teacher’s school. The reception begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium at 160 Fifth Avenue in New York City with the award ceremony to follow at 5:30 p.m.

These awards are made possible by financial support from MƒA Board Member Peter Muller and his family through their Dancing Tides Foundation.

2024 MƒA Muller Award for Professional Influence in Education Winners

Bushra Makiya, 16-year MƒA Master Teacher

Bushra Makiya has taught middle school mathematics in the Bronx for the past 20 years, spending the last 18 at CIS 303: The Leadership and Community Service Academy. At CIS 303, Makiya holds the role of Math Lead Teacher, works with fellow teachers to plan curriculum and instruction, and supports schoolwide professional development. She is currently spearheading implementation of the Building Thinking Classrooms framework at her school, and visits with other NYC schools looking to create settings for deep mathematics learning to occur.

Makiya earned her B.S. in materials science and engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her MST in education from Pace University, and her M.S. in math leadership from Bank Street College of Education. She is a National Board Certified Teacher, a member of the MoMath Advisory Council, and a member of Teach for America’s Math Steering Committee. She’s presented at district, state, and regional conferences including AMTNYS and NCTM.

Makiya is a Master Teacher through the NYC Teacher Career Pathways Program and supports Community School District 9’s (48 Bronx K-12 schools) professional development efforts through her role as math liaison. She is a five-time MƒA Master Teacher, a finalist for the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and a 2016 Big Apple Award winner.

Makiya is being awarded for her commitment to improving math instruction by fostering innovative opportunities for teacher learning and collaboration in her school and district.

“The collective work of improving students’ math and science educational experience requires people who are as passionate about their subject matter as they are knowledgeable about the pedagogy,” said Makiya. “I am deeply honored to receive the MƒA Muller Award and proud of the work I have done through and beyond MƒA to create spaces to connect and collaborate with fellow teachers. These spaces are vital to our professional growth, and I look forward to continuing to build them across schools, buildings, and districts in the future.”  

Elisa Margarita, 11-year MƒA Master Teacher

Dr. Elisa Margarita has taught high school biology in New York City for over two decades, most recently at Brooklyn Technical High School (BTHS). At BTHS, Dr. Margarita transforms her AP Environmental Science and Science Research classrooms into living laboratories, leaving an indelible mark on students and fellow educators. Beyond her classroom, she turns model programs into mentorship hubs for new and veteran teachers.

Dr. Margarita earned her A.A. in Veterinary Science Technology from SUNY Farmingdale State College, her B.Sc. in Biochemistry from Stony Brook University and her D.C. Doctor of Chiropractic from Northeast College of Health Sciences. She has played pivotal roles in leading initiatives like the Harvard Forest Witness Tree Data Literacy Project, a collaborative effort with scientists and educators to enhance climate change education. Her work with Brooklyn Queens Land Trust fosters future stewards of conservation and preservation within the boroughs.

Dr. Margarita’s leadership significantly advanced science education citywide during her presidency of the Science Council of New York City. Her inventive projects, like the Brooklyn Tech Living Plant Wall, earned her the esteemed Coca-Cola Distinguished Teacher Award, showcasing her unwavering commitment to student welfare and environmental consciousness. She is a three-time MƒA Master Teacher and a recipient of the 2022 Sloan Award for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics.

Margarita is being awarded for her commitment to improving science instruction in New York City and nationally by spreading best practices and coaching peers around issues of climate change.

“Educators spark curiosity, share knowledge, and help students grow. We love inspiring young minds, shaping futures, and nurturing a love for learning that lasts a lifetime,” said Dr. Margarita. “Teaching is a true privilege, and I am thrilled to be recognized with the MƒA Muller Award, highlighting teacher influence that goes beyond classrooms, impacts communities, and motivates future leaders. As teachers, we have the power to support our colleagues and build leadership skills that reach far beyond school walls.”

An external committee selected the finalists for the award by considering the nominees’ contributions to the math or science teaching profession, including their ability to have a positive impact within their school community and drive change outside of their own classroom, leadership within the broader teaching community, and influence on inspiring other teachers to stay in the profession. A committee of the MƒA Board of Directors chose the two winners, one in math and one in science.

The external committee is comprised of experts in mathematics and science education, including:

  • Sylvain Cappell, Professor of Mathematics, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU;
  • Jeanne Garbarino, Director of Science Outreach, Rockefeller University;
  • Latasha Wright, Chief Scientific Officer, BioBus.

The MƒA Muller Award for Professional Influence in Education is awarded annually to two teachers, in math and science, who have taken a prominent role as leaders among the MƒA teacher community and beyond. Read more about the award and past winners here.

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About MƒA

At MƒA, we’ve created fellowships for accomplished mathematics and science teachers. Our model is based on the belief that collaboration, continued learning, and genuine respect enables teachers to grow professionally and provides long-term career satisfaction. This is a remarkable community of teachers who stay in the profession longer and define what teaching excellence means. These are teachers who inspire and motivate their colleagues. They change the lives of their students. To larn more, please visit MathforAmerica.org.

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