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Outstanding Teachers of the Month - February 2004

Education Update welcomes our new Advisory Board, Dr. Charlotte K. Frank, Senior Vice-President of McGraw-Hill and former regent of New York State, Dr. Augusta Sousa Kappner, President of Bank Street College of Education, Dr. Alfred Posamentier, Dean of City College of NY, Dr. Pola Rosen, Publisher, Education Update, Adam Sugerman, Publisher, Palmiche Press and Laurie Tisch Sussman, Chairman, The Center for Arts Education and Honorary Chair, Children's Museum of Manhattan. The Board will make the final decision on the teachers to be honored each month.

In 2003, Education Update began the tradition of honoring teachers each month for their outstanding work on the "frontiers" of education. In the 100-year history of the New York City Department of Education, teachers had never been recognized in this way. In June, there was a rousing culminating ceremony at the Harvard Club attended by Chancellor Klein, Channel 11 TV news (and broadcast that evening), principals, superintendents, teachers and family members. One proud mother came all the way from Hawaii to honor her son.

We are now continuing the tradition of recognizing outstanding teachers which will culminate in a ceremony at the Harvard Club in June 2004. Superintendents, principals and colleagues may nominate teachers by filling out a form online. Some of the criteria are how students in the teacher's class have shown progress in their work, how and when the teacher uses innovative teaching strategies, how the teacher has motivated the students to be more involved in classroom activities, and how the teacher has increased parent and community involvement. The url has been emailed to all principals in NYC public schools. If you have not received the email please contact ednews1@aol.com. Deadline for Submissions: February 17, 2004.

Teachers are the backbone of our educational system. They richly deserve the recognition that Education Update gives them. Congratulations to this month's Outstanding Teachers of the Month in recognition of the vital role they play in our childrens' lives.

-Dr. Pola Rosen, Publisher

Outstanding Teachers of the Month - February 2004

Teresa Foley
Maria Perdios
Pearl Halegua
Gina Refano
Jennifer Hunter
Christine Soraghan
Sari Jacobs
Dr. Gary Spindler

Teresa Foley
Principal: Jose Montanez
Superintendent: Peter Heaney
Name of School: PS/IS 126, Manhattan
School District/Region: Region 9

Even in a building filled with extraordinary teachers, Teresa Foley is a standout. Ebullient and energetic, Teri's fifth grade class is a high-powered laboratory site for the improvement of teaching and learning. Her tiny size belies her powerhouse teaching demonstrated by any peek into her classroom. Looking for her in her classroom can sometimes feel like a Where's Waldo exercise with Teri leaning in closely to teach her students-conferring over a novel with a pair of students, demonstrating a writing strategy for a small group or helping an individual child solve a mathematical problem. Teri has created the kind of classroom where the students expect great things of themselves and each other. Her teaching is always aimed toward creating independent and imaginative learners. Her open and kind nature makes her eminently approachable for her colleagues who see her as a natural and renewable resource within the school. Her membership in a Teachers College Leadership group with Lucy Calkins had given her an even wider circle in which to learn and share and as a result, videotapes of her classroom are used to demonstrate exemplary practice in the teaching of writing. Visitors to her classroom often ask if hers is the gifted class since the conversation is so lively and the work so sophisticated and meaningful. The answer is that it's Teri's teaching that makes the kids into extraordinary learners in spite of their coming from challenging backgrounds that include poverty and homelessness. Just this week, when Teri announced to the class that every child had achieved an above-grade-level score on both reading and math citywide tests (100% @ Level 3 or 4!) and asked them to reflect on the work that gave them such amazing results, the kids told her, "You. You, Mrs. Foley, are the reason we can do anything."#

Name of Nominator: Jose Montanez, Principal

Pearl Halegua
Principal: Sylvia Hammer
Superintendent: Judith Chin
Name of School: P.S. 196, Queens
School District/Region: Region 3

Student Progress: Mrs. Halegua has enriched the lives of all of her students with her hands-on approach to learning as well as her rigorous academic program in all curriculum areas. She goes the extra mile for those children with special needs. Mrs. Halegua often works with her students during lunchtime to help them reach the standards. Pearl was featured in CBS Channel 2's special program entitled "Spotlight on Schools" in which she modeled a mathematics investigation based on probability.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Pearl has served on District 28's Mathematics Committee. She implemented the constructivist approach in mathematics several years ago. She motivates her children by providing them with mathematics lessons that are related to real life situations. For example, Pearl has taught probability by having students come up with their own games of chance and participating in the city StockmarketGame. (Her class came in first place last year.)

Motivating Students: Children in her classes love their homework assignments. They often bring in typed reports and anxiously wait their turns to present their work. She celebrates their work by inviting parents and administrators.

Name of nominator: Sylvia Hammer, Principal

Jennifer Hunter
Principal: Denise Vittor
Superintendent's Name: Reyes Irrizary
Name of School: Queens Vocational & Technical High School
School District/Region: Region 4

Student Progress: Students in Ms. Hunter's Classes are exposed to a variety of situations that will allow them to be prepared for the world of work and or higher education. When students leave the school they have created:

* 3 hard copies of an up-to-date resume
* a  diskette with resume to amend as needed.
* a sample of a letter of application.
* a sample of a letter of follow-up, thank you.
* they know how to post a resume on the internet
* personal and business cards.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Hunter has implemented innovative teaching strategies by bringing the lessons to "life." Even if the lessons are theoretical, Ms. Hunter will draw the lesson's connection with the future. Students are exposed to taped seminars and conversations by experts in specific fields. The following are examples of recent projects:

1.  Event Planner (Planning a holiday dinner for a marching band invited to participate in the Macy's Parade).

2.  Plan a vacation to London. Your itinerary must include 8-10 tourist attractions you learned about in English or History.

3.  Research on a Corporation. The project must include information about stocks sold, CEO, company history, job opportunities in the company, community activities, environmental concerns of companies and industry.

Motivating Students:  Ms. Hunter helped develop and implement Business Day that involves students in showcasing their talents to the school.

The number of graduates who call or return to say "Thank you," state that she helped them in many ways that included their personal life and their careers.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Hunter has provided computer skill workshops for parents. She recently involved students in an internship program with Washington Mutual. Ms. Hunter has been instrumental in Open Houses for parents and prospective students to showcase Queens Vocational & Technical High School Business Program. Ms. Hunter is responsible for directing the Coop program, which connects many businesses to our school and students' community work based learning experiences.

Name of nominator: Jeanette Newman, Asst. Principal for Business and Cosmotology


Sari Jacobs
Principal: Victor Lopez
Superintendent: Dr. Jorge Izquierdo
Name of School: P.S. 96 Manhattan
School District/Region: School District 85

Student Progress: Over the last four years P.S. 96 has gotten off the SURR list in record time. This epiphany has been accomplished by academic improvement in all of our grades especially our fourth. Ms. Jacobs has utilized both conventional (GROW reports, practice tests, etc.) in her assessment of the students, but she has also initiated "out of the box" concepts such as student-to-student assessment and parent night to involve the entire school community in becoming better. Each year since 1999 Ms. Jacobs' class has shown marked improvement in both their Reading and Math Levels. Last year her class scored at 80% at levels 3 and 4.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: On a daily basis Ms. Jacobs differentiates her instruction to each student in her class. Whether it is a quick fire mini lesson to review what has been taught, to meeting individually with each child to stress strengths and weaknesses.

Motivating Students: Ms. Jacobs has instituted a class council each week that allows for all students to speak about relevant issues. She is a strong believer in the hands on approach and her classroom is always buzzing with the sounds of student conversation.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Jacobs has initiated both a Family Math and Literacy evening at P.S. 96. Her students travel to other classrooms to read to the younger students and her publishing parties bring out large numbers of parents to hear students recite their written work.

Name of nominator: Victor Lopez, Principal

Maria Perdios
Principal: Anthony Orzo
Superintendent: Laura Rodriguez
Name of School: I.S. 174, Bronx
School District/Region: Region 2

Student Progress: Ms. Perdios' room reflects a classroom of Balanced Instruction, an integral part of the Mayor's reform.

Ms. Perdios keeps portfolios of each student in her room so she is able to track their progress. In addition, she conferences daily during independent reading to help each student with a particular weakness and build on their strengths.

Writers' notebooks are kept so students can work on the writing process with her. Ms. Perdios also uses the Princeton Review Assessments to track the progress of her students.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Students in Ms. Perdios' room have been asked to invest $10, 000 in stocks and keep track of the price/percent change daily. They will present their data in the form of graphs and an oral report as to how well or poorly their stocks performed.

In addition to this enrichment project, students will have to fill out a design portfolio that is focused on ancient Egypt. They will research different types of pyramids around the world and construct a scale model of a pyramid based on the dimensions of an actual pyramid.

Motivating Students: Ms. Perdios has posted a chart of classroom jobs such as taking care of the animals or computer monitor. These jobs are changed weekly so that each student has the opportunity to be involved in the "running" of the class.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Perdios for the last month has had her children work on their own poems. As a culminating activity, the students' original poems will be bound in a book so that each student will have his own "publication" to take home. In addition, Ms. Perdios has planned a celebration of the students' writing in the form of a coffeehouse reading.

Name of nominator: Maxine Rossman, Lit. Coach

Gina Refano
Principal: Deirdre A. DeAngelis
Superintendent: Michelle Fratti
Name of School: New Dorp High School, Staten Island
School District/Region: Region 7

Student Progress: The students in the teacher's class have shown progress as follows: 81% of 9th grade students pass the Living Environment Regents Exam. More students become eligible for taking the Living Environment Regents through increased success in performance based lab activities. Increased scores in the critical thinking aspects of the Regents examination in Living Environment.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Innovative Teaching strategies used: Expressing science through art, Include the New York Science Times in instruction, Journal writing, The use of an interactive website designed for the students.

Motivating Students: Teacher motivation for student participation in classroom activities includes: Web based communication for all homework and project based assignments. Cooperative Learning inquiry based hands-on activities. Involve the students in activities outside the school such as: visitation to the College of Staten Island where the students work on college level laboratory experiences. Created a 'Share Fair' at New Dorp High School. The 'Share Fair' exhibited inter-disciplinary student work from all the constituents in the school.

Parent/Community Involvement: Parent and Community involvement: Act as teacher liaison between the College of Staten Island and New Dorp High School for the "College Now House." Participated in Human Service Race with her students for Fire Fighter lost in the line of duty on Staten Island. Organize various school trips for students.

Name of nominator: Verona Moncrieffe, Asst. Principal, Science


Christine Soraghan
Principal: Denise Vittor
Superintendent: Reyes Irizarry
Name of School: Queens Vocational and Technical High School
School District/Region: Region 4

Student Progress: Ms. Soraghan has set a tone in her classes where student and parent accountability is encouraged. Included in each student portfolio are attendance records, formal and informal assessments, projects, and progress reports of student IEP goals. Students and parents are clear of the expectations of the class, and are required to respond accordingly. As a result, her Math A students are performing better than any other Math A students within the Special Education Department. This is evidenced by their attendance, formal assessments (midterm grades), and overall grades for the term.  She targets students who are struggling academically as well as those who are scheduled for upcoming Regents and RCT examinations. She sacrifices her time willingly to provide extra instructional forums and tutoring for these students.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Soraghan has successfully incorporated the new "workshop model" approach into her daily Math A instruction. As the liaison between the Special Education and Math Department in our school, she has successfully mastered the essential components of the Math A curriculum and modified it to meet the special needs of her students. In her special education math classes, she has implemented group work and cooperative learning to help her students acquire much needed communication and social skills.

Motivating Students: On any given day, Ms. Soraghan's students (most of whom have great difficulty focusing and remaining on task due to their special needs) can be seen actively engaged in beneficial classroom activities.  Her classroom has become a nurturing, supportive learning community where participation and student contributions are encouraged and where exploratory questions are presented by students who traditionally have difficulty communicating their questions, thoughts, and concerns.  The attendance rate for her classes is considerably higher than comparable Math A classes, both in the general education and special education environment.

Parent/Community Involvement: As her professional assignment, Ms. Soraghan also functions as a part-time Crisis Intervention Teacher.  As part of this role, she is the Special Education Department's contact person responsible for soliciting parent support. She makes parents aware of student progress and/or problems and sets up appointments with appropriate school staff when needed.

Name of nominator: Enrique Vela, Assistant Principal

Dr. Gary Spindler
Principal: Deirdre A. DeAngelis
Superintendent: Michelle Fratti
Name of School: New Dorp High School, Staten Island
School District/Region: Region 7

Student Progress: In addition to having 100% of his students passing the Regents exams in Living Environment, his students have successfully completed competitions in Science Olympiad, USABO (United States of America Biology Olympiad). Students in his classes are mandated to use web-based communication in accessing all homework and project assignments, and have thus become more computer savvy. 

Innovative Teaching Strategies: The teacher uses innovative teaching strategies in the following areas: Develop internet based review chats on a regular basis. Using former students as online mentors for current students. Through the development and implementation of a Forensic Science program for incoming freshman students  Through the use of his medical expertise as a licensed podiatrist, he uses medicine as a framework and paradigm for instruction in 9th grade Living Environment class.

Motivating Students: 1. Teacher coaches students for USA Biology Olympiad competition Runs the chess club in New Dorp High School. Created a website that is used as foundation for communication for his classes through: parent-teacher e-mail. Student-teacher e-mail. Class and homework assignments.

Parent/Community Involvement: A. The teacher participates in the following at The College of Staten Island: Instructor and "mentor specialist" for graduate course for new teachers at The College of Staten Island Discovery Institute. Curriculum writer. Students from his biology class participates in  advanced laboratory activities on the college campus under his directive. Each year his students participate in a summer program involved in advanced research.  Organizes school trips for students enrolled in all levels of Biology to Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Serves as Item writer of Living Environment Regents exam for New York State Department of Education. He has served as a Science Fair judge for New York City wide Science Fair under the auspices of The New York Academy of Sciences. He created a web-site that facilitates immediate communication with parents.

Name of nominator: Verona Moncrieffe, Asst. Principal, Science



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