It’s Awards Season for PDS Teachers!


Alex Chia

Most Likely to Win a Rap Battle winner Dr. Alt greets senior Farhan Mohammad at Teacher Awards Upper School Gathering (Photo/Alex Chia ’26)

Karina Yuan, Online Staff Writer

The Princeton Day School Teacher Awards has been held annually since 2021 to give Upper School students an opportunity to honor and thank their teachers. With the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, teachers were often forced to work overtime, doing whatever they could to keep students learning. Senior and Student Council Vice President Jai Kasera, the creator of the teacher awards, commented on how this observation inspired him to create a venue to honor teachers for their hard work: “Because [teachers] had to transition their classs and curriculums from in-person to virtual, both students and teachers needed support…at that time, it was a great opportunity to hold a kind of event where we can acknowledge the work of teachers.”

This year, teachers could win awards in ten categories: most likely to be a spy, rookie of the year, most likely to win a Nobel Prize, substitute of the year, most likely to be a superhero, most likely to be president, most witty, most quotable, most likely to win a rap battle, and most engaging. Prior to the ceremony, which was held during Upper School Gathering, there was a mix of knowledge and emotions swirling around regarding the winners. While some knew that they had won awards, others, such as Upper and Middle School Science Department Chair Jason Park, didn’t know. Mr. Park shares that he “didn’t know that that was going to be happening.”

The winners of the 2023 teachers awards were…

Most Likely to be a Spy: Math teacher Laurent Cash
Rookie of the Year: English teacher Leila Estes
Most Likely to Win a Nobel Prize: Science teacher Steve Gadd
Substitute of the Year: Nicholas Muoio
Most Likely to be a Superhero: Michael Cifelli
Most Likely to be President: History teacher Stefanie Santangelo
Most Witty: English teacher Jess Manners
Most Quotable: History teacher Sam Hunt
Most Likely to Win a Rap Battle: Science teacher and ninth grade dean Charles Alt
Most Engaging: Mr. Park

Mr. Park, who won the Most Engaging award, stated, “I felt very thankful. I felt a lot of gratitude for all the students that I’ve taught. For me, it was wonderful, and it’s just nice to feel appreciated.” Every teacher has their own unique qualities, and these awards only represent a fraction of the immense talent and skill of the Princeton Day School faculty. After winning the Rookie of the Year award, Dr. Estes commented, “My specialization is in film…so I do a lot of film related things in class. I think that people like that a lot. And it’s not like I’m doing it to make people happy, it’s what I know. It’s always good to do what you know best, because then I feel like the passion kind of comes through.”

The Teacher Awards were created at first as a fun event for both students and teachers during COVID-19 times. Every year, they ask the entire Upper School community to actively participate in giving credit to the teachers and faculty who are often taken for granted. Congratulations to all the teachers who won awards this year!