Middle School Teacher of the Year



Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Sunitha Howard

Sunitha Howard began her career in the Yonkers Public Schools in 2005 as a Science teacher at Emerson Middle School (Cross Hill Academy), transferred to Yonkers Montessori Academy and is currently at School 5 teaching 7th and 8th grade science. Principal Robert Riccuiti endorsed the nomination.

Ms. Howard is a Class of 1994 Gorton High School graduate in the Medical Magnet Program. She excelled in Century Honors classes and earned multiple academic awards and scholarships. Ms. Howard earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and Biology-Chemistry from CUNY Lehman College Scholars Program and a Master of Public Health degree specializing in Epidemiology from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Ms. Howard is a New York State Master Teacher in Science. In addition, she is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Education department at Manhattan College.

At School 5, Ms. Howard is involved in all aspects of the school's activities. She initiated, facilitated and planned the school’s ecologically friendly Orchard, which serves as a hands-on learning environment for students; is My Brother's Keeper Program Advisor/Leader; facilitates S.O.S Simply Organized Students club for grade 7 and 8 students to help students build empathy, confidence and self-esteem; Environmental Club Advisor; Yearbook Advisor; and the school’s website manager. This is in addition to instructional activities, such as afterschool and Saturday Academy for the state afterschool Math and ELA exam and Teams facilitator for staff.

Ms. Howard refers to her educational philosophy as, “a mindset that when a child is loved and accepted for who they really are, there is no limit to how exceptional an adult they will become or the positive mark they will leave in this world. It is partly because of the support, encouragement, and opportunities I received as a child through the Yonkers School system that has helped shape who I am today.” She wrote about helping a gender-expansive student and the family by applying this mindset. Years later, Ms. Howard was thanked by the child, who Ms. Howard noted that he was “beaming with the kind of smile that told her he was finally comfortable in his own skin.” She added, “I share this story because to help any student achieve anything, whether it be the honor roll, or knowledge and understanding, they need to be loved and accepted for who they are. Once that happens, they will take on the challenge to be the best they can be, and their achievement levels will follow suit. At the end of the day, it is about helping a child get to a level where they can achieve and that can only happen when they feel encouraged, supported and loved. I am just a Yonkers kid paying it forward!”

When asked what she liked the most about her job, Ms. Howard wrote, “Getting the opportunity to make a positive difference in a child’s life.”

Sunitha and Geoffrey Howard have three children; Sophie, age 14, Shayna 11 and Aiden 10 and playful goldendoodle Biscuit. Still living in Yonkers are Sunitha’s mother, Leelamma Koshy, who always makes a delicious hot lunch for her during the school day, and Aunt Santhamma Thomas, who encouraged her to attend Yonkers Public School after immigrating from India.