In The News

Brooklyn teacher’s math and ESL passions help students adjust to new culture

Delfina Cheung excelled first as an ESL teacher then as a math teacher at a Brooklyn junior high school.

Delfina Cheung excelled first as an ESL teacher then as a math teacher at a Brooklyn junior high school.


Saturday, June 18, 2016, 8:13 PM

Delfina Cheung was a teenager when she realized she had a future in teaching.

Educational options in the Philippines were slim for her younger sister, who has Down syndrome. So Cheung spent hours helping her learn the basics of math and reading.

“I have a lot of patience,” said Cheung, 62, a math teacher at William McKinley Junior High School 259 in Brooklyn. “Every day we did drills.”

That patience would come in handy years later when she came to the U.S. as a teacher. Although she applied for a job as a math teacher, administrators were in desperate need for an English as a second language teacher for the growing number of Asian students coming to the school.

Bronx teacher eases tough talks with calm voice to parents

Noting her Chinese language skills, they offered Cheung a job as an ESL teacher.

“The kids could not speak a word of English, and I had to teach them everything,” she said. “Some of them picked it up right away. It’s amazing how they learn.”

But Cheung — more confident in her ability to teach in English and Filipino — found herself stumbling over words and being corrected by her students.

“I told them they needed to have dictionaries,” she said, remembering with a laugh. “I am not a superwoman.”

Bronx music teacher creates music program for students

While teaching them reading, writing, math and social studies, Cheung made sure the youngsters were exposed to the culture in their new country. There were trips to Ellis Island, the American Museum of Natural History, South Street Seaport and other city sites.

The bonds she made with those first students have lasted more than 20 years. They 

return for birthday gatherings and visits to the school.

Hometown Hero Nominee: Delfine Cheung is appreciated by students for her effort in helping them adjust to American culture.

Hometown Hero Nominee: Delfine Cheung is appreciated by students for her effort in helping them adjust to American culture.


Several of the students nominated Cheung for a Daily News Hometown Heroes in Education award.

The awards honor dedicated school staffers whose hard work is rarely spotlighted. Nominations are open through July 22. The winners will be selected by a panel of judges and recognized with a celebration in October.

Cheung taught ESL for a few years before switching to math.

She trained as a math teacher inspired by her own struggles with the subject.

East Harlem math teacher helps build kids’ confidence levels

“The teachers in the Philippines taught us to just memorize it,” she said. “I wanted to become a math teacher so I could explain it better to students.”

Former sixth-grade student Chih Ling Cheng called Cheung a “strict but loving teacher” who was an inspiration and a role model.

“I became a social worker because I want to help immigrant families,” Cheng said. “I worked with youths in the Chinese community to help them find a mentor in life and encourage them to reach their goals.”

Cheung said she loves seeing happy and successful former students.

“Some of them are professionals now and parents,” she said. “When I come in to work I really feel like I have accomplished something important.”

Local students ace annual essay contest

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Helen Klein
Eighth grade student winners of the BRCC essay contest with Vinnie Bocchino, Madeline Sbarra and Linda Rubino.

Local scribes were in the spotlight as the Bay Ridge Community Contest honored the winners of its annual Essay Contest.

Students from fifth through eighth grade from public, private and parochial schools in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights participated in the competition, with each grade answering a different question. Winners were chosen on each grade level from each of the participating schools, with the school winners receiving certificates, and then first and second place winners were selected from across all the schools that had taken part, on each grade level, with prizes and plaques awarded.

Fifth grade students wrote essays responding to the question, “What role will robots play in our future?” The first place winner overall was Helen Li, of P.S. 69, with Nadeen Abuhamdeh of P.S. 102 snagging second place.

Sixth graders were asked to “imagine it is up to you to choose someone for president of the United States. How would you convince that person to accept the job?” Allison Moran of St. Ephrem School was the first place winner among the sixth graders, and Matteo Rotatori of St. Patrick Catholic Academy won second place.

Eve Peters of I.S. 201 was the first place winner on the seventh grade level, answering the question, “Should the private lives of famous people be off limits?” with Nicole Clemente of St. Bernadette School winning second place.

Finally, the overall eighth grade winner was I.S. 259’s Victoria Blunnie, with I.S. 104’s Sara Gabralla winning second place. They answered the question, “Does social media ever make you feel bad?”

The ceremony was held at I.S. 259, McKinley Intermediate School, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Score! Former Ranger Andre Dore visits local school to teach kids hockey skills

It’s a goal for the New York Rangers Youth Street Hockey Program.

On Thursday, January 28, former Ranger Andre Dore showed up at McKinley Junior High School, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, to participate in drills and clinics with the kids from both the McKinley Beacon Program and the Carey Gardens Cornerstone Program in Coney Island in an event presented by Coca-Cola and the HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services (HSVS) McKinley Beacon Program.

Former New York Ranger Andre Dore with Muhammad Musa.

Check out McKinley on this episode of "It Ain't Rocket Science."

Our school is featured at the 2:23 mark. 

YouTube Video

McKinley wins Respect for All week! (3rd year in a row!) 

Respect for All week 2015 swept McKinley Junior High School in Dyker Heights between Monday, February 9 and Friday, February 13, as McKinley, in its third year of participating, sought to become a third-time Respect for All winner....

Students create ‘Generations’ mural for Norwegian Christian Home Intermediate School students working with the arts group 20/20 Vision for Schools have created a mural for a local health center.


Arts Powered Learning: IS 259 A Mural of Mythic Proportions

Arts Powered Learning: IS 259 A Mural of Mythic Proportions (In Brooklyn): IS 259 Transports You to 1930s New York. Students at IS 259: William McKinley Intermediate School, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, have set about creating what has grown into a 2,500 square foot hallway mural up to 12 feet high in places - that includes over 500 original student poems and essays.

IS 259's "Phantom of the Opera" (excerpt): Seventh and eighth grade students from IS 259 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn produce their own DVD production of Phantom of the Opera, combining history, literature, performance and visual art in an exploration of the themes of love and loss.

IS 259 students interviewed on CBS news for their Cultural Connections hallway mural project entitled, "Rhapsody in Blue" that integrates ELA, Social Studies, and visual arts using illustration, original poems, and stories about the art and architectural history of 1920s and 30s New York.

That's So New York: IS 259 Mural: IS 259 in Brooklyn has taken the lessons out of the classrooms and onto the walls of their school.