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Rafal Olechowski (NY '11)

Assistant Principal, Humanities

Townsend Harris High School
Flushing, NY

Subject(s) taught: English (ELA)
Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

At the time of the Award, Rafal Olechowski was:

Townsend Harris High School
Flushing, NY

Subject(s) taught: English as a Second Language
Grade(s): 9, 10, 11, 12

Biographical Information

Rafal Olechowski's classroom may be classified as "reading," but beyond its walls, students engage in a world connecting literature, art, music and history. Olechowski's passion for literature and the broader humanities is reflected in his instructional methods as well, using close reading literary analysis, a “words on walls” strategy, and a white board to demonstrate parallel trends such as those connecting Romantic art and poetry.

Whether students have spirited discussions about the material or incorporate technology to create 3-D book jackets, each is challenged to make the words jump off the page and come to life. One-hundred percent of Olechowski's students passed the New York State Regents Exam in English, with 90 percent earning mastery or higher.

Olechowski's talents have benefited the school as a whole. He transformed the student literary magazine into an award-winning publication, and advises the MALcontents (Music, Art, Literature) student book club. The Phoenix, the student-run literary magazine he oversees, was awarded an esteemed Gold Crown by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2012. In addition, he mentors teachers and participates in professional development for the Common Core Standards.

Olechowski enjoys infusing his students' and fellow faculty's learning experiences with the cultural richness of New York. He established relationships with the 92nd Street Y, as well as the Theater Development Fund's (TDF) Open Doors mentoring program, which pairs high school students with theater and dance professionals. Believing that teachers are lifelong learners, he led a faculty field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to explore interdisciplinary opportunities for creating student projects.

Related Connections

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Rafal Olechowski In The News

Townsend Harris H.S. Teacher Honored
The Queens Gazette  |  May 16, 2012  |  Queens, NY

Townsend Harris teacher wins $25K education Oscar
TimesLedger Newspapers  |  Mar 08, 2012  |  Queens, NY

Principal is always learning
Centre Daily Times  |  Mar 05, 2012  |  State College, PA

Townsend Harris Teacher Wins $25,000 Milken Award
The New York Times  |  Mar 02, 2012  |  New York, NY

Surprise! New York City Teacher Receives $25,000 National Milken Educator Award
Yahoo! News  |  Mar 01, 2012  |  Flushing, NY

Give this teacher extra credit!
Daily News  |  Mar 01, 2012  |  New York, NY

NYC Teacher Surprised with $25K Award
The New York City Department of Education  |  Mar 01, 2012  |  New York, NY

Urban Teachers Receive $25,000 Milken Awards
Urban Educator  |  Council of the Greater City Schools  |  Mar 01, 2012  |  ,