Francisco J. Núñez To Present Educator Patricia Redd Johnson With The Woodridge Award For Great Teachers At The Academy For Teachers “Show Teachers The Love!” Benefit

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Benefit to also feature performances by Matthew Broderick, Vanessa Williams, jazz great Ron Blake, hip-hop artist Sean Cross, composer Phil Galdston, poet Taylor Mali, and puppeteer Basil Twist

The Academy for Teachers will present its first-ever fund-raising gala celebrating New York City teachers on Tuesday, May 2, during which Francisco J. Núñez, founder and artistic director of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and an educator himself, will present Patricia Redd Johnson, his former teacher at I.S. 44, with The Academy’s Woodridge Award for Great Teachers.

The benefit takes place at the New York Historical Society and begins with cocktails at 6 p.m. followed by a performance featuring stars of stage and screen Matthew Broderick and Vanessa Williams, jazz great Ron Blake, hip-hop sensation Sean Cross, composer Phil Galdston, poet Taylor Mali, puppet genius Basil Twist, as well as a quartet of gifted students from the Special Music School.  The benefit’s honorary co-chairs are Caroline Hirsch, Stephen Sondheim, and Gloria Steinem.

The “Show Teachers the Love” benefit, which coincides with National Teachers Day on May 9, will honor the important and selfless educators valued by our city, and will be attended by those teachers as well as their supporters, members of the The Academy and its donors.

Woodridge Award recipient, Patricia Redd Johnson, taught English, drama, history, and math in a number of New York City Schools, including I.S. 44 on Manhattan’s West Side where Francisco Núñez was one of her students; Music and Art High School (now LaGuardia); and A. Philip Randolph High School at City College, where African-American and Hispanic students studied an advanced curriculum in preparation for careers in medicine. After teaching for 20 years she went into administration, initially at The Dalton School and subsequently at Hotchkiss, where she founded the Hotchkiss Gospel Choir. Mrs. Johnson was the only African-American English teacher at all of her schools, and promoting diversity and inclusion has been central to her life’s work: “My goal was to help my students become lovers of learning, critical thinkers, and caring people unafraid to be themselves.”

Mr. Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow, remembers his I.S. 44 class led by Mrs. Johnson as a melting pot of students from many different cultures and economic backgrounds. “Not only was she a brilliant teacher, but instilled in me and my classmates the discipline to work as a team and to always look out for each other,” said Mr. Núñez. “Beyond that, she energized and fiercely challenged us to succeed, inspiring us to open our eyes and ears to new ideas and daring us to reach beyond our comfort zones.”

The Woodridge Award for Great Teachers is named for Mattie Woodridge, an African-American teacher in Helena, Arkansas, who taught in a segregated school (built by a black woman entrepreneur named Eliza Miller). She was the school’s “teacher of the year” four times.  She wanted all teachers to feel recognized and convinced Eleanor Roosevelt to help her lobby Congress for the establishment of National Teacher Day, which was introduced in 1953.

The Academy for Teachers honors and supports exceptional teachers, New York City’s most valuable resource, organizing Master Classes and other events that bring teachers together with the culture’s most brilliant and creative minds. These classes are held in partnership with New York City institutions, which host the Master Classes. The Academy’s secondary mission is to increase respect for this indispensable profession and demonstrate to educators everywhere our appreciation and recognition of their vital work.


“Show Teachers the Love”

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New York Historical Society

170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)

6 p.m.   Cocktails
7 p.m.   Show
Tapas and Dessert to follow

For tickets contact


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