Teachers of the Month
- April 2003
Principal: Elizabeth Brodsky
Superintendent: Dr. Stan Mims
Name of School: Community Elementary School 170, Bronx
School District/Region: District 9
What are the significant events
in the life of a college student that contribute to causing
a change in major from Sports Announcing and Management to
one as an Elementary School Teacher? For Joseph LeRea this
epiphany came after he saw the differences he could make
in the lives of summer campers who he coached in basketball
clinics. “If I can cause these fundamental
changes in the way these kids approach teamwork, discipline,
and skill development in eight weeks, imagine what I can do
with impressionable children over the course of a year.” As
simple as that might sound, it led to a change in major studies
from Sports Management to Elementary Education.
The results, six years later, are
nothing short of remarkable! Joseph LeRea is an accomplished
second grade teacher who demonstrates limitless patience
for the inquisitive seven year olds who see him as a giant
(he’s well over six feet), caring
and committed teacher. The parents defer to his judgment and
actively ‘plot’ to get their other children in
his class. His graduates, (Community Elementary School 170
is a K-2 School) repeatedly return to show off their CTB and
ELA results long after they have left his class. He enjoys
the respect and admiration of his colleagues and continuously
seeks out new challenges for himself.
When you ask Mr. LeRea what are
the significant ingredients in his classroom, he answers
methodically but precisely: “I
spend entire weekends planning for individual needs of my students;
print rich environments don’t just happen, they are created.
There is no better or more fulfilling way to establish this
type of class setting than with the original and edited works
of his students; the writing and publishing that students create
are critical to their own sense of achievement and accomplishment.” Consistent
with the school’s theme, Mr. LeRea’s class “Celebrates
Success” on a daily basis. Routines and rules are established
immediately and the focus on writing and reading for enjoyment
begins on the first day of school.
What happened to the career in Sports
Announcing? Mr. LeRea still brings his enthusiasm for organized
sports to the classroom and his reading groups often bear
the names of NBA, NHL, and MLB teams. So if you pass by his
room, you’re more than
likely to hear Mr. LeRea’s students encouraging each
other with plaintive cheers of” Let’s Go Yankees.
Lets’ Go Mets. Let’s Go Rangers!
Principal: Kim Bruno
Superintendent: Tony Sawyer
Name of School: LaGuardia High School of
Music & Art and Performing Arts
Penny Frank has been a dance instructor
at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts for 35 years.
She is a demanding teacher who receives the requisite response
from her students since they see in her what they might become.
Ms. Frank is warm and caring. She is one of our most effective
teachers, one who never stops until the job is done, always
going above and beyond—a total professional. She devotes
herself unselfishly to her young dancers.
In addition, Ms. Frank spends hundreds of hours beyond the
school day and during holiday breaks, working with the students
on their performance projects. I refer specifically to the
Arts Recognition and Talent Search candidates. In fact, Ms.
Frank has coached more finalists in this Presidential Scholar
program than any other dance instructor in the country and
this year we have six finalists and seven honorable mentions.
Students and teachers alike continue to be inspired by her
Principal: Paul J. Choset
Superintendent: Christy Cugini
School District/Region: District 31
Name of Shool: William Leng School P.S. 54,
I have been fortunate to know Mrs. Lillian Philips professionally
and personally for eight years in my capacity as principal
of PS 54 in District 31, Staten Island, NY.
During these past eight years Mrs. Philips has done substitute
teaching in our early childhood grades. Each class she takes
over is done with a love for children and teaching. Her passion
for children as well as her responsibility to the curriculum
is second to none!
Her kindness, sensitivity and building self-esteem are her
Whenever a teacher is absent and Mrs. Philips steps in, I
have great peace of mind that the children will receive great
instruction and be treated extremely well!
P.S. 54 is truly lucky to have Mrs. Lillian Philips by our
side as an integral part of the P.S. 54 family. Kudos for a
job extremely well done!
Principal: Joan Washington
Superintendent: Dr. Susan Erber
Name of School: Marathon School P 811, Queens
School District/Region: District 75
Barbara Tetenbaum has been a music
teacher at P811Q, a school for students with severe disabilities
since 1975. Barbara’s
talents are varied and her giving never ends. Her work can
be described as magical, as she adapts her lessons to children
with autism, behavior disorders, and physical and cognitive
delays. Barbara always finds a way to reach the most “unreachable” child.
Her outstanding sense of humor, patience and expertise never
fail. Barbara uses the piano keyboard, adapted musical toys,
instruments, and total communication techniques to get all
of her students to respond and move to the music. She composes
songs and writes lyrics when she cannot find appropriate publications
for certain occasions.
There are so many ways that Barbara
contributes to our school, too many to mention in one short
article. Barbara is also a registered nurse and works weekend
shifts at a local hospital. At the end of her shift she collects
helium gift balloons left behind and brings them to school
on Mondays to be used by the Adapted Physical Education department
in “Volley balloon” games.
Barbara’s Special Events committee
ensures that no holiday goes unnoticed. She is sensitive
toward the diverse cultures in our school and finds ways
to have everyone feel included. Barbara inspires others to
participate so that the school gets decorated with student
and staff work for every event. Whether it is the Haunted
Gym, Tree Planting Ceremonies, Holiday Gifts for every child,
Valentine Photo Hearts, or the Field Day and Picnic, you
know Barbara is behind the scenes, and in front and center
getting the festivities underway, and getting things done!
The amazing thing is she makes it
seem so effortless. Hence, the “Magic” of Barbara.#