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Dawoun Jyung, a 6th grade math teacher and Crew Advisor at MELS, a NYC Outward Bound School in Forest Hills, Queens, was chosen as the 2020 recipient of the Gaynor McCown Excellence in Teaching Award. The annual award is presented to a peer-nominated network school educator who exemplifies a commitment to NYC Outward Bound Schools’ educational approach, which joins together demanding and engaging academics with an emphasis on community and character.

Closing out her fifth year at MELS, Dawoun was chosen for her exceptional commitment to her students and the school community. According to several current and former students, Dawoun’s safe and collaborative classroom environment is a place where failure is celebrated as a normal and important part of learning. Reflecting on her journey to becoming a teacher, Dawoun remembers arriving in the U.S. as a ninth grade English Language Learner and feeling as though math was the one language she could understand. She constantly reinforces that everyone can be a mathematician, regardless of gender, race, background or perceived ability. 

“Our teachers really are heroes. They work tirelessly to come up with lesson plans that are meaningful and engaging to students, and they shower them with support, making sure that they’re deeply cared for and loved. They’re constantly challenging and supporting their students to have them do their best work and be their best selves,” says Richard Stopol, President & CEO of NYC Outward Bound Schools. “Dawoun does all that and more. She’s someone who makes math come alive for students. She is a fierce advocate and champion for all of her students.”

Watch a video about Dawoun:

We would also like to recognize our 2020 Gaynor McCown Teaching Award nominees Jeff Knafelc, a math teacher at Leaders High School and Emily Hollyday, a science teacher at West End Secondary School. Thank you for your dedicated service to our community of students!


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