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APRIL 2004

Outstanding Teachers of the Month - April 2004
Victoria Sottile • Joanne Vitiello • Louise Masiello • Dennis Robinson • Linsey Miller • Tania Sanchez • Dolores Molesphini Trum


Victoria Sottile
Principal: Joseph Zaza
Superintendent's Name: Gloria Buckery
Name of School: Leon M. Goldstein HS, Brooklyn, NY
School District/Region: 6

Student Progress: Students consistently score well on the New York State Regents. Our school passing rate is 90% and above due to teachers like Ms. Sottile. Her students pass her courses at the rate of 85-95% each term

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Sottile teaches drama as well as senior English.   Ms. Sottile asks students to write plays or dramatic acts to express their feelings about the works that they are reading.   Students perform their plays in class.   Ms. Sottile also requries students to write group research papers.

Motivating Students: As the drama teacher, Ms. Sottile challenges students with complex plays and works.   This March, she had her students perform A Streetcar Named Desire.   In the past she has also directed esoteric plays such as Everyman and Six Characters in Search of an Author.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Sottile organized a student exchange trip with our students and students of Licea-Davigo School in Rapallo, Italy.   She made the contacts with the Italian school, publicized the trip to parents here, and set up the host families on both sides of the Atlantic.   The Italian students visited us for 11 days in March and our Ms. Sottile will be escorting our students to Italy next week.

Name of nominator: Joseph Zaza, Principal

Joanne Vitiello
Principal: Mary Petrone
Superintendent's Name: Michelle Fratti
Name of School: Public School 19, S.I., NY
School District/Region: District 31/Region 7

Student Progress: Ms. Vitiello has been on the professional staff of P.S. 19 for over nine years. She is well prepared to meet the needs of students as her approach reflects competence, commitment and desire to advance students academically and emotionally. To that end, she worked to help secure a program entitled "Reading for Excellence" This innovative literacy program enhances the awareness and application of the six dimensions of reading which fosters early literacy success among students. Through her efforts she was awarded the position of the Reading for Excellence Coach. This enables Mrs. Vitiello to provide staff development to the K through 3rd grade teachers of P.S. 19 in an organized effort to elevate their ability to help them build skills for teaching every child to read. Mrs. Vitiello continues to work with these teachers modeling lessons, doing collegial walkthroughs of classrooms and supporting their efforts in order to maximize student success. Further, she analyzes student statistical data to help drive instructional lessons. Mrs. Vitiello networks with community agencies and P.S. 19 parents and guardians. Through grants and community support, Mrs. Vitiello has involved nearly one hundred P.S. 19 parents to become active participants in our school community.

Name of nominator: Mary Petrone, Principal


Louise Masiello

Principal: Ivy Sterling
Superintendent's Name: Dr. Susan Erber
Name of School: P S 77K, Bklyn, N.Y.
School District/Region: District 75/Region 3

Student Progress: Miss Masiello's performance as a transition coordinator demonstrates dedication well beyond her current position. She has 17 graduates this year and has already been able to place 12 in programs. She maintains our supported work program and at every opportunity tries to link up with an employer willing to give her students a chance. She has two students in competitive employment, one of which when he graduates can remain there full time.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Miss Masiello uses her training as a positive behavior specialist to assist in developing behavior plans and coaching students towards appropriate social skills so necessary for their independence. She also assists teachers in teaching the necessary skills the students need to graduate.

Parent/Community Involvement: Miss Masiello has been a strategic member of the school's comprehensive plan and the school's leadership team. In her job as the transition coordinator, she uses the community as a resource to help find student's jobs. She also works with each and every family to ensure that they get the services they need.

Miss Masiello is a consummate professional. She is competent, caring, compassionate, results-oriented and a great team player. She goes "beyond the call of duty".

Name of nominator: Ivy Sterling, Principal

Dennis Robinson
Principal: Howard A. Friedman
Superintendent's Name: Peter Heaney, NYC
Name of School: Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School, NY, NY
School District/Region: Region 9

Student Progress: Mr. Robinson has over 90 percent of his students passing The Living Environment Regents. His classroom success has demonstrated a clear progress over his years of teaching.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Robinson has his students use a number of high tech innovations, including PowerPoint presentations, digital microscopy techniques and computer research.

Motivating Students: Mr. Robinson's classroom is a constant hotbed of activity.   Students are using the computer frequently.   There are good student-centered techniques being incorporated, such as cooperative learning and hands-on activities.

Parent/Community Involvement: Mr. Robinson has given a large amount of his free time to assisting disabled students and students in need, using his after school free time to accomplish this.   Recently he assisted a student from Sierra Leone, Sheku Mansaray, whose both arms were cut off by guerrillas in his country, to obtain prosthetics through a donation from the Robin Hood Foundation.   He also tutored this young man in his studies after regular school hours on a daily basis.

Kentucky-born, Mr. Robinson speaks fluent Spanish and has been of great help to his Spanish-speaking students, especially in their Science studies.   He was a member of the Peace Corps in Central America and has been very sensitive to the needs of our ESL students.

Name of nominator: Howard A. Friedman, Principal

Linsey Miller
Principal: Dr. Mary McInerney
Superintendent's Name: Dr. Susan Erber
Name of School: Hungerford School - P. 721R, S.I., NY
School District/Region: 75/Region 7

Student Progress: Linsey has been teaching the severely disabled students of our school since 1989. Linsey is involved with alternate assessments of our students. However, every student that Linsey teaches has a portfolio assessment in all areas although NYS does not at this time require it. Linsey uses many teacher made assessments which are aligned to the standards. She also assesses her students with developmental scales!

Innovative Teaching Strategies: To be an instructional leader, not only do you need to know the material that you teach but you need to be able to deliver the instruction on a personal level, especially with our students... Linsey's developmental approach to teaching and learning has not only helped our students to achieve their IEP goals but they have moved on to general education classes through inclusion and then back to special ed classes in the mainstream! Linsey remediates weaknesses through strengths. Her students compete in Citywide contests with their general education peers and her students win!

Motivating Students: Parents come in to our school and want Linsey to be their child's teacher. Parents talk and share the positive experiences of their children, the positive growth in the children, the many successes of their child, with other parents and Linsey is much in demand. That is evidence in and of itself.   Students will never miss Linsey's classes and then at here classes on Saturday, which she runs at the Zoo...the students and families show up!   (The Zoo is a grant that Linsey wrote).

Parent/Community Involvement: Linsey is our school's representative to D. 75 and region 7. As a result our students particpate in Fairs in both districts.   Linsey has been asked to do workshops in both districts. She is as excited about teaching adults as working with children. Linsey was recruited by Brooklyn College to work with those hoping to become teachers. Prior to 1988, our school never wrote a grant.   Linsey, the grant writer, has secured over $1 million dollars in the past 12 years for her students, including the prestigious Annenberg Grant for Art Education. Linsey has also written a curriculum that involved the Maritime Arts!

Name of nominator: Mary McInerney, Prin.

Tania Sanchez
Principal: Anthony Orzo
Superintendent's Name: Laura Rodriguez
Name of School: Eugene T. Maleska, Bronx, NY
School District/Region: District 8 Region 2

Student Progress: Ms. Sanchez uses "oribit wrap" to assist her in finding the correct reading level of each student. She conferences with each child and helps them choose a "just right" book for independent reading. This assessment helps her to group her students by need and develop guided reading groups that target different skills that they need to improve.

In addition, she uses peer assessment as a valuable tool for students to see progress in their work. Students work in pairs to discuss with each other their writing piece and make suggestions as to how they can improve their writing.

Also, Ms. Sanchez uses the Princeton Review Assessment tests to track the progress of her students in both reading and math. This data is used to drive instruction. Daily conferencing with her students gives her a better understanding of her students' needs, particularly several bilingual students who are new to the country. This one -on- one attention will help to address their needs.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Sanchez introduces a concept in a mini-lesson and then has the students explore what they have learned with each other. The students work together in groups of 5 or 6 students. She uses visuals such as an overhead or manipulatives to help students who need a visual connection as well as a connection to real life. Her class also takes trips to enforce the concepts they have learned in class. Centers play an important role in her class. Students are sent to do different tasks they have learned during the past week. Students are introduced to each center in the beginning of the week and questions are answered then. This plan allows the teacher to work with a group with minimal interruptions. Another strategy Ms. Sanchez uses is peer tutoring. After she teaches a skill, she goes to each group and works with one student. That student will turn-key the information and answer questions the group may have. She tries to pick a different person each time to help build their self-esteem and build leadership skills.

Motivating Students:
Every time the students are given a compliment by a staff member due to good behavior or good work, they get three chocolates kisses in a jar. When the jar is full, the entire class gets to enjoy them They then start all over. The key is that they must earn the kisses as a group. She never takes the kisses out of the jar if they misbehave. Stickers are given to the students who participate in a lesson; even those who try but don't get the right answer but can give reasons for their answer receive stickers. Ms. Sanchez has an "open-door" policy. Students are welcomed into the classroom early in the morning. They come in to ask questions about their homework or just talk to her about issues in their lives. They also may use her computer or just talk to their friends in a caring environment. This helps to deter them from talking too much during class time. Ms. Sanchez keeps track of her students when they are working in a group using a point system. When a group is working well, they receive points from 1-20. The team to score 100 points first gets popcorn. It keeps them on task when they are working without her direction.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Sanchez invites parents to accompany her on class trips. Parents are encouraged to visit her class to see the class projects such as the "fractured fairytales" which her class created, original fables and science projects on insects. Ms. Sanchez certainly has an "open-door" policy in regard to the parents and the school community. She warmly greets guest and proudly shows off her students and their work. Her room is used as a "lab" to showcase Balanced Literacy.

Name of nominator: Maxine Rossman, Literacy Coach

Dolores Molesphini Trum
Principal: Lisa Esposito
Superintendent's Name: Joyce Fonollosa
Name of School: Public School 8
School Address: 100 Lindenwood Road, S.I., NY
School District/Region: District 31, Region 7

Student Progress: Mrs. Dolores Molesphini Trum has been teaching at Public School 8, Staten Island for over 25 years. It is the concensus of the entire school community that she is nothing less than a Master Teacher. Her style is second-to-none and her teaching abilities are outstanding. Mrs. Trum is an extremely conscientious teacher. She is attuned to her students' individual needs, aligning her lessons accordingly and always striving to help her students meet the standards. She frequently meets with administrators and colleagues to plan effectively, share her expertise and ultimately learn Best Practices to implement in the classroom.

Student Progress: Interim Assessment (March 2004) has shown great overall Math and Literacy improvement.

Portfolios demonstrate progress (especially writing samples). Progress Reports reflect students meeting the standards. Excellent class attendance record.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Some evidence of using Best Practices and innovative teaching strategies include choosing authentic literature to read and interpret, Implementing thematic/interdisciplinary units, creating a print-rich environment, holding high expectations for all students and adjusting instructional practices based on ongoing student assessment, applying the principles of Learning to her classroom (ex: teaching children how to organize for effort).

Motivating Students: Nishita Pate—Spelling Bee Winner, 2003; Frank Pomponio—entered into Regional Art Exhibit, 2004; Participating in 100th Day of School project; Readers Are Leaders; Reading Marathon; PACT Program (Dance & Theatre); Snow Castle project; Class Plays (13 Colonies); Foreign Language Tutorial Program; Permwinkle National Theatre's production of "The Mad Poet Strikes."

Parent/Community Involvement:
Effective instructional practice is sensitive to a community's diversities, including language, culture and the reality that all parents are influenced by their own school experiences. Mrs. Trum actively encourages parent involvement in the instructional program. Last year, Mrs. Trum teamed up with another fourth grade teacher to produce and perform a play, which was a culmination to a thematic unit on Colonialism. Parents participated by designing costumes, aiding in writing the script, painting scenery and providing technical assistance on the day of the show. Mrs. Trum recently invited parents to help their children design and create snow castles, a project that entailed using math skills such as perimeter and estimation to build a castle out of sugar cubes. Upon visiting her classroom the morning of this event, one could sense the enthusiasm and curiosity the parents had about the project.

Many members of the District 31 Community (now Region 7) have recognized the various talents and abilities of Mrs. Dolores Trum.   Mrs. Anita Veriglione, District 31 Coordinator of English Language Arts and originator of Project Read, offered Mrs. Trum a position as a Staff Developer several years ago. Although she turned down this position in order to continue teaching children, Mrs. Trum maintains a strong commitment to Professional Development. Because she is one of the pioneers of Project Read, she is able to train other teachers on how to successfully implement the components of Balanced Literacy.   Her colleagues respect her expertise, embrace her educational philosophies and model her instructional practices in their classrooms.

Name of nominator: Lisa Esposito, Principal, and Erica Mattera, Assistant Principal.



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