Teachers of the Month - June 2003
Roberta Guaspari Tzavaras
River Elementary School
Sid Massey, Principal
Evelyn Castro, Superintendent
a first-grade student of Roberta Guaspari Tzavaras, I never quite
knew what it was about her that made her seem so magical to me.
I knew only that I revered her and that I would do anything to
please her. She was tough and uncompromising, but the most caring
teacher I have ever had. As an adult and a violin teacher myself,
with 75 ninth graders in the South Bronx, I recently spent a day
in Roberta’s classroom trying to figure this out more objectively.
I watched as students who had behaved poorly in other classrooms
became enthralled in trying to get their C sharps high enough.
I concluded that it is Roberta’s dedication to making good musicians,
and her ability to communicate this goal to her students, that
makes her so effective. She persuades her students to believe
that for that 60-minute period, there is nothing more important
in their lives, or in hers, than playing the violin—and playing
In addition, Roberta is an incredible role model and an abundant
resource for me. She always takes time from her hectic schedule
to discuss with me such mundane things as, “How far before the
spring concert should I stop introducing new songs?” And, “How
do you make your students play in tune?” She is always humble,
though I think she knows how much I take her opinion as fact.
Roberta is the teacher whom all students remember and whom all
teachers aspire to emulate. She transcends the classroom; she
changes lives. I know, because that first day of violin class
certainly changed mine. Now, I teach violin because Roberta taught
me that the lessons learned from playing such a difficult instrument
skillfully go beyond application in the classroom. Through Roberta’s
faith and perseverance, students learn that they have the resilience
and strength to overcome incredible obstacles through discipline
and dedication. The larger lessons that Roberta espoused are what
make Roberta’s instruction so complete, and what inspired me to
teach the instrument myself. Each day I attempt to employ the
same methods and practices in my own classroom that Roberta uses.
My dream is to one day be able to provide my students with the
type of instruction that Roberta gave to me. Her presence in my
life was a gift too great to keep to myself.#
Gompers Vocational & Technical HS, Bronx
Mary Ann Hawthorne, Principal
Joseph N. DeJesus, Superintendent
Division of High Schools
Matthews was praised by U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige
during his visit to the school on September 25, 2002. As a result,
Mr. Matthews was invited to Washington, D.C. as one of the facilitators
representing C-SPAN and cablevision where he demonstrated the
use of multimedia in the classroom.
Through his involvement with the Teaching Interdisciplinary
Problem Solving Through Educational Technology Program
(TIPS) Mr. Matthews has initiated and implemented extremely creative
interdisciplinary lessons and projects.
Mr. Matthews teaches global studies to honors students and special
education students. He has achieved 100% passing rates in all
of his classes for both levels of students.#
Pasteur Middle School 67Q, Little Neck
Mae Q. Fong, Principal
Ms. Claire McIntee, Superintendent
Eisenstein has been the Student Organization Faculty Advisor for
the past 12 years (since my appointment as Principal of MS 67Q).
With a firm belief that excellence in education can only be achieved
by involving the children for whom we dedicate our lives, our
school vision of the S.O. has evolved in the following manner.
During September and October students are encouraged to ‘campaign’
for student officer positions in the S.O. These positions include:
Class representative, Grade representative, Student Store Manager,
Recording Secretary, Vice President and President. During grade
assemblies, all candidates present their innovative ideas on how
to make Louis Pasteur Middle School 67Q a better place. The traditional
ideas of more student dances, better menus in the cafeteria, prettier
bathrooms and more choices in the S.O. store prevail. Sometimes,
a candidate comes up with an idea that captures the imagination
and really does take hard work to accomplish.
These ideas are presented to students during Town Hall Meetings.
All students have the chance to ask their representatives questions.
A productive exchange is encouraged. During the most memorable
years, the S.O. under the supportive leadership of Carol Eisenstein
have written and adopted a Bill of Rights (duly passed and signed
and then blessed by a parent, Supreme Court Judge Buckner), an
articulation dance with incoming 5th graders, installation of
a microwave oven in the store so that children can prepare popcorn
and this year, the S.O. led the modification of the MS 67 Q Homework
Policy. This was a magnificent process ... from student petitions
to presentations to the faculty, PTA and School Leadership Team.
Their commitment to making teachers aware of the need to reduce
projects and other assignments over vacations so that they can
spend quality time with family and friends was admirable.
Great things happen because great educators care and nourish the
imagination of children. Carol Eisenstein is that special teacher
at Louis Pasteur Middle School 67Q. The children adore her. In
addition to her work as S.O. Faculty Advisor, Carol was on the
parent teacher transition committee when JHS 67Q was changed into
MS 67 Q in 1991. Carol has also served on the School Leadership
Team as a teacher member. She is also chairperson of the School
Based Option Personnel Committee.
Harvard professor Roland Barth believes that it is the culture
of a school first and foremost that determines the success of
a school. Carol Eisenstein is the core of the spirit of giving
and caring that characterizes the faculty of Louis Pasteur Middle
School 67Q. It is with great honor that I strongly recommend Carol
Eisenstein for the well-deserved recognition of Teacher of the
The New Vision School, P.S. 69, Bronx
Maria Custodio-Guzman, Principal
Dr. Betty A. Rosa, Superintendent
take great pleasure in nominating Eileen Sonnenberg Alba as outstanding
teacher of the month. For the past 36 years, Eileen has devoted
all her energy, time and devotion to teaching children and training
teachers. For the past 6 years, she has been the glue that held
P.S. 69 together during turbulent times. As the new Principal
at P.S. 69 in 2002-2003, she welcomed me, and worked collaboratively
with me to move the school forward, as evidenced by the positive
school climate and increased student achievement. As a classroom
teacher, Literacy Coach, UFT Chapter Leader and Chairperson of
the School Leadership Team, she has clearly demonstrated her commitment
to the school and community through her skillful leadership and
her passion for children. She teaches, she shares and she cares!
Eileen’s focus has always been to motivate, guide and teach children
as well as teachers to be successful in their personal and educational
growth. Eileen is retiring this July, and should be recognized
for her year in, year out, month after month contributions to
P.S. 276, Brooklyn
Diane Weiss, Principal
Paula LeCompte Speed, Superintendent
Cirone is a 3rd grade teacher at PS 276 in the Canarsie section
of Brooklyn. For the past several years she has participated in
the Theatre for a New Audience World Theatre Project which introduces
young people to the works of William Shakespeare. Learning the
language of Shakespeare is a daunting task for 6th
grade students (the grade level the program is focused for) let
alone 3rd grade students. But because Ms. Cirone is
so dedicated to the project and such a great teacher her students
excel in this program. Walking into Ms. Cirone’s classroom, one
can tell this is a fun place to be and conducive to learning.
Children’s art work and writing hangs from every imaginable space
and the children are always actively engaged in the learning process.
They will, on request, recite the speeches of Mark Antony and
Brutus, characters from the play as well. The children are excited
to be in the classroom and clearly having a good time learning.
In addition to her usual duties, Ms. Cirone wrote for and received
a Parents as Arts Partners grant from the Center for Arts Education.
With this grant, parents were able to participate in a Shakespeare
workshop with their children after school. It was an exciting
learning experience for all those involved. For these reasons
she is our choice for Teacher of the Month.#
PS 5, Manhattan
Wanda Soto, Principal
Jorge Irizarry, Superintendent
Knight has been teaching the second grade at Public School 5 in
Washington Heights for the past five years. Prior to that she
was a kindergarten teacher. A visit to Evelyn’s class will see
enthusiastic students in an orderly environment, but the air is
electric with all the learning that is taking place. It is evident
that the children feel secure, but that they are also accomplishing
a great deal in this classroom. Ms. Knight was trained in an Orton-Gillingham
approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling in 1999 by
Reading Reform Foundation, and she has used this phonetic, multisensory
way of teaching reading ever since. She combines this structured
approach to accurate spelling and reading with exciting applications
in various themes of study with the children, such as animals
or folk tales. Ms. Knight claims her first and foremost hobby
is, appropriately enough, reading, but she also enjoys traveling.
She brings back her experiences to her students to enrich their
lives in yet another way.#
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