Megan Driscoll Berdugo, a 31-year-old math teacher at Brooklyn International High School in Brooklyn, New York was honored recently after being recognized as one of New York City’s best science and mathematics educators. She was nominated and subsequently won the Sloan Award – which is given to teachers who demonstrate “exemplary work in the field of math and/or science education and serve as a role model to their respective communities” – for her work in helping kids from immigrant families to learn the concepts and theories inherent to calculus and geometry. Part of her job is helping students at BIHS who have recently immigrated to the country.
The vast majority of Berdugo’s students speak English as a second language and have come to New York from refugee camps in their native countries. Some were even enlisted as soldiers and engaged in combat at home before coming to the US. Many hail from war-torn nations and are living with family members who they have never met before. As Berdugo stated, “our students are coming from difficult situations and some are afraid of math and think they just can’t do it.” She says that the main part of her job as a math educator is to get her students excited about learning mathematical concepts and to let them know that it doesn’t have to be an intimidating subject.
Berdugo received her nomination for the Sloan Award by the principal of BIHS and subsequently selected to win the award by an independent panel of renowned mathematicians and scientists from across North America.
She has been teaching in Brooklyn for nearly a decade and says that her teaching methodology is a combination of the utilization of technology and hand-on instruction implemented in an effort to guide her students “painlessly through the jungle that is geometry.”