Home About Us Media Kit Subscriptions Links Forum

View All Articles

Download PDF










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















MARCH 2004

Outstanding Teachers of the Month - March 2004


Ernestine Belton
Principal: Karen Underwood
Superintendent's Name: Laura Rodrique
Name of School: Community School 152
School District/Region: 8/2

Student Progress: Mrs.Belton has demonstrated an overall sense of pride and commitment to her students, something I observed these two years I've served as principal.  She takes her time to work with her students, she gives up her lunch period and prep periods everyday to encourage, discipline and reward her students.  She is a highly structured teacher from the old school of teaching.  She closely monitors all of her children performance and can articulate with you exactly what a child may need and how she plans to help her students.  She uses data as an assessment tool to further her cause. Yet she is receptive to new ideas.  Her students, from the most difficult to the sweetest, show her love and respect.  As they travel through the building, you do not hear them nor do you hear Mrs. Belton.  She walks with a very soft step and it is carried through with her students.  Her class is very distinct.  It is known throughout the building.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Her strategies are not very innovative but they are productive.  She gets results from children of all levels. She is more practical and does not waste time. Again, she is structured and rigid, but fair and flexible. Through the ongoing level of respect, her children excel.

Motivating Students: Over the last two years she has encountered some difficult children. The transformation of these children once being with Mother Belton is unbelievable. One student, who was with her last year and was excellent, is a serious problem this year. She was the only person who stood between him and special education.

Parent/Community Involvement: Mrs. Belton reaches out to parents when students are good and bad; when they experience success and when they experience failure.  She believes in parental support and demands it from the parents.  She is highly respected in this community.  The parents are involved in her assembly performances, class trips, cultural feast, and the educational process of their children.

Name of nominator: Karen Underwood, Principal

Josephine Coskie
Principal: Dr. Ellen Margolin
Superintendent's Name: Mr. Reyes Irizzary
Name of School: P.S. 88
School District/Region: 24/4

Student Progress: It is with great pride that I nominate Mrs. Josephine (Jo) Coskie as our "Teacher of the Month".

Mrs. Coskie has been a teacher of special education children for more than three decades. The majority of Mrs. Coskie's career has been spent helping developmentally challenged children to become happy, productive members of our society. More recently she has undertaken the extraordinary responsibility of serving as health coordinator for our school's very large special needs population. In this capacity she ensures that the individual needs of every child are met whether in an integrated or self-contained setting.  From early morning to late afternoon, and sometimes into the early evening and on weekends too, Mrs. Coskie can be found at school, diligently undertaking one task or another to help the children.

As a result of her involvement with the students, their self-esteem and self-confidence have dramatically improved. This has carried over to their classwork. The children are better able to focus and complete tasks. Their homework is done more regularly and their ability to work with their peers has improved.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mrs. Coskie is not only brilliant, but also devoted, dedicated, and committed to the children and their teachers. She is absolutely passionate about her job and it is this passion, which shows through in everything she does. But the most striking aspect of Mrs. Coskie's success is the quality of the educational environment she provides for the more than 100 children with IEP's.

Mrs. Coskie confers with classroom teachers on strategies to meet the children's individual needs. She guides the teachers in the use of techniques of direct instruction and the Wilson Program, among others.

Motivating Students: During a recent review of our integrated program by the New York State Department of Education, the monitors were overwhelmed by what they saw. Their adjectives to describe our program included "awesome", "wonderful", "terrific", and indeed everything about what Ms. Coskie does, certainly is.

Their assessment was based on the monitors' visits to  several classrooms in which they saw the children engaged in all classroom activities. The children worked cooperatively in small group activities in some rooms, and worked individually in others. In some cases the children were part of whole group lessons and were clearly integrated into every phase of the educational environment. Clearly the emphasis was on "academic rigor"–the children certainly met our expectations.

Parent/Community Involvement: A highlight of Mrs. Coskie's week is the vocational program she has developed. Several times during the year, the students in our "Crafts Incorporated-Kids in Business" create, manufacture and sell seasonal crafts throughout the school. Begun with only a small "start up" fund of $50.00, the children have already earned more than $500.00.

Sold to the parents and members of the community, making these crafts helps the children improve their reading skills (following directions), their fine and large motor skills, socialization skills and math skills (profit margin, net gain, banking, etc.).  This venture is also one that has become a motivating force for students who receive related services.  Their therapists have incorporated the skills required to create the crafts into their sessions.

P.S. 88 is extremely proud of what our special needs children have accomplished. Its success is because of the hard work and efforts of Mrs. Coskie, who firmly believes in the worth of every child regardless of his handicapping condition. P.S. 88 considers it a privilege and honor that Mrs. Coskie shares her talents and wisdom with us.  We also would like to acknowledge Jo's husband, Edward whose support of his wonderful wife has allowed us to benefit from her kindness and intelligence.

Name of nominator: Dr. Ellen Margolin, Principal

Danielle DeMartini
Principal: Audrey Murphy
Superintendent's Name: Joseph F. Quinn
Name of School: P.S. 16Q
School District/Region: 24/4

Student Progress: Mrs. DeMartini had a third grade class performing below grade level. Most of the students were nonreaders and underachievers. She worked so hard with these students last year that she decided to move up to fourth grade with them. Each student scored above and beyond expectations on both the third grade math and reading test at the end of third grade (with many scoring 3's and 4's). Today these students have shown tremendous improvement in all subject areas. Their classroom portfolios are filled with evidence of how much each student has grown as a learner.  No longer are these students at risk but performing well above those of their peers.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mrs. DeMartini goes above and beyond in her classroom teaching techniques.  Currently her class has been studying volcanoes and have put together an amazing presentation on Hyper Studios.  Walking into her classroom, students are in every nook and cranny working diligently.  Her laptops are always out with students researching or publishing.

Her class won second prize in the district's Math, Science, and Technology fair for their work with roller coasters.  They spent weeks focusing on just roller coasters. Through the Internet, they made computer models, researched different kinds of coasters, and made many different graphs during math. Her eight year olds could explain the difference between kinetic and potential energy in science. Her students divided into groups and they made models of roller coasters with tubing!

Motivating Students: Mrs. DeMartini consistently goes over the top to provide unique themes to capture her student's attention. They are so intrigued and excited about learning. Her units are always students selected in order to make their learning more meaningful. They have studied units on reptiles, Ancient Rome, Native Americans, roller coasters, and so on. Using her understanding of multiple intelligences she always plans with her students' strengths in mind.

Parent/Community Involvement: Mrs. DeMartini has a wonderful rapport with her students' parents. Her parents have her phone number and she calls every two weeks to update the parents on their student's accomplishments.  Parents are always willing to accompany this class on their trips to the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Native American Museum, etc.  Mrs. DeMartini also helped organize a 4th grade ELA night for parents that was quite successful. Mrs. DeMartini has also invited their Assemblyman, Jose Peralta, to read to her class.  She goes out of her way to involve her parents and community leaders in her classroom adventures.

Name of nominator: Elaine Iodice

Olga Economos
Principal: Robert Zweig
Superintendent's Name: Dr. Lester Young
Name of School: Offsite Educational Services
School District/Region: Alternative Programs District 79/Region 11

Student Progress: Ours is an unusual program; students that are no longer wanted by their high schools are sent to us.  The students involved all have histories of excessive absence, failing grades, some school suspensions and occasional encounters with the law. Ms. Economos, along with two other teachers at our Hartley House site, has worked to create a sense of welcome and safety, along with academic challenges that have shaped numbers of now successful students.  Progress here is measured in passing grades, 80+ attendance, and impressive portfolios that detail a progression of quantity and quality work. This may not sound as impressive as some other, easier to measure gains made by more traditional schools, but these reluctant scholars it indicates a complete change in focus and attitude. 

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Economos is the English and Social Studies teacher at O.E.S. @ Hartley House.  Daily she prepares intricate and well thought-out cross-disciplinary lessons that keep the students fully and actively engaged; filling gaps in lower level skills while developing higher-level thinking processes. Themes from a novel are typically combined with current events, essay development, global history and geography. Student presentations to the class, group activities, class discussions and lunchtime tutorials are just some of the methods employed by Ms. Economos.

Motivating Students: Ms. Economos has "it"; that inexplicable thing that makes a really good teacher. Ms. Economos has the motivation and desire to do the best she can for our students and she encourages them to do the best for themselves.  Students that previously cut school almost every day for years now attend class daily, often choosing to stay in the classroom doing work during lunch period. Ms. Economos has further engaged the students by matching them with French pen-pals and teaching them French. I often send Ms. Economos students that are causing difficulties at other sites, knowing that the classroom community that she has worked so hard to create can soften the toughest, most hurt students, and help them find themselves.

Parent/Community Involvement: Besides our program sponsored parent activities, Ms. Economos and the teachers at Hartley House spend uncountable hours making contact with the parents of our students. Initially, parents seem reluctant to develop relationships with the site teachers, as they have often had less-than positive relationships with their children's schools in the past. Ms. Economos takes time daily to make positive phone reports as well as simply informational calls, helping parents to feel safe as well. Additionally, Ms. Economos works with the Hartley House agency to place students as counselors in their community after-school program.

Name of nominator: Elisa Aragon, Assistant Principal, Offsite Educational Services



Daniel Jaye
Principal: Stanley Teitel
Superintendent's Name: Peter Heaney
Name of School: Stuyvesant HS
School District/Region: Region 9

Student Progress: Students in Mr. Jaye's Math Research class have regularly captured numerous medals in the prestigious NYC Math Fair. Mr. Jaye is also the executive director of the NYC Math Team, which has captured Gold Medals in the last 5 State Championships, and he is the director of the CCNY Scholars Academy in Mathematics and Science, which has been featured in Education Update (see August 2002 article by Tom Kertes).

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Jaye uses cutting edge technology to inspire students. He presides over an exciting class, enriching the content through the thoughtful use of technology including Geometers' Sketchpad and Mathematica that makes mathematics come alive to an audience of wide-eyed students.

Motivating Students: Mr. Jaye's classroom is unique. Students are actively engaged in high order learning as the beauty of mathematics is revealed through the artful orchestration of speculation and discovery.

Parent/Community Involvement: Daniel Jaye's class spent countless hours studying polyhedra. He then taught a lesson on the Japanese art of Origami paper folding. The class constructed literally hundreds of intricate "Stellated Icosaheda," sixty sided figures using a modular origami technique. These incredible artworks were then donated, at Christmas, to the pediatric ward at Beth Israel Hospital Center, where these figure delighted the young (and not so young) patients. Lori Burns, the head of the volunteer unit that oversaw the distribution of the "origami treats," indicated that they brought a warmth and renewed spirit to the children. This was a heartwarming act of kindness that made our students more aware of those less fortunate than themselves. I urge you to contact Ms. Lori Burns to learn of the wonderful acts of kindness that Mr. Jaye's classes bestow upon the infirmed children every Christmas. This is just one of many examples of his community involvement. His work as director of the CCNY Scholars Program, providing enrichment to motivated students, citywide, is another example of his community involvement. I can think of countless other activities that make Mr. Daniel Jaye an outstanding candidate for your teacher of the month.

Name of nominator: Stanley Teitel, Principal

Lisa Lafontant
Principal: Mrs. Anita Garcia
Superintendent's Name: Myrta Rivera
Name of School: P.S. 329
School District/Region: 21/7

Student Progress: Ms LaFontant is presently working as our Magnet Teacher.  She is coordinating classes who do  Innovative Teaching Strategies. She has created and maintains our Surfside School Store, coordinates our monetary system-THE SURFSIDE DOLLAR, our Surfside Dancers, who perform during our various programs, she coordinates the Student Organization including elections, meetings, projects etc., coordinates our gardening program in conjuction with Home Depot, our partnership with the Brooklyn Cyclones and a long list of activities!

Motivating Students: In every instance, Ms. Lafontant motivates the students to be involved in every activity listed above.

Parent/Community Involvement: The Magnet Program  that includes The Cyclones, Home Depot, Brooklyn Arts Council, The New York Aquarium, Mark Twain School for the Gifted and many more.

Name of nominator: Mrs. A. Garcia (Principal)



Barbara Morochnick
Principal: Elba Lopez
Superintendent's Name: Irma Zardoya
Name of School: PS 33
School District/Region: Region 1

Student Progress: Ms. Morochnick has been a leader in our fourth grade classrooms. She has designed an effective program to help our students improve their writing skills. Because of her academic rigor and her dedication every year, we have very good results on the students ELA test.  The students learn to evaluate their own work and have learned the rubrics to determine if their writing meets the standards of excellence.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mrs. Morochnick co-teaches in every fourth grade classroom. She provides staff development for our fourth grade staff. She is an expert in testing and evaluation and on how to use assessments to improve instruction.  She is a reading specialist and is an artist, integrating math, science and technology with reading and writing. She leads our fourth grade teachers, working together to design and implement best teaching practices. Mrs. Morochnick plans and leads the 4th grade conferences and she brings new ideas and methods to improve the reading and writing for all our fourth grade students.

Motivating Students: Our students consistently do well on the ELA test. We have very good attendance and studentsÕ participation in every classroom. Our students publish books of poetry and write book reports and conduct research to support their writing.

Parent/Community Involvement: Mrs. Morochnick teaches an English as a Second Language class for parents, she designed a program in which the children read poetry to their parents and she meets once a week with parents to borrow books from our school library. We offer workshops to teach parents on how to help their children at home. She has designed a program to celebrate the achievement of our students with music, food and dance. She displays the picture and the scores of all the students who have shown improvement on their ELA and math test.

Name of nominator: Elba Lopez



Elyse Stefanishin
Principal: Mrs. Jeanette Sosa
Superintendent's Name: Reyes Irizarry
Name of School: PS 151k
School District/Region: 32/4

Student Progress: Ms. Stefanishin is not currently a classroom teacher. During her thirty-six year career, she has taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades. Three years ago, I was fortunate enough to place her in the position of Staff Developer.  In this role she has been able to share her expertise with many staff members. She has partnered with our Teachers' Center Specialist to focus on the fourth grade, providing demonstration lessons, as well as rest sophistication to the  students in preparation for the quite important English Language Arts examination.

Through her intervention, our school-wide scores have improved each year, resulting finally this year, in our being removed from the "schools in need of improvement" list as documented by the New York State Department of Education.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: As Staff Developer, Ms. Stefanishin has been well-trained in the latest techniques as recommended by Teachers' College and literacy specialist Lucy Calkins. Ms. Stefanishin is a superb Staff Developer and besides modeling the latest strategies with the students for the staff, she implements them in her own instructional program during the day and after school as well. Each year, Elyse teaches in an after-school assignment where she uses her skills and strategies with the lowest performing students in the fourth grade and consistently raises  at least to another quartile.  Each spring, she takes our data home where she spends long hours preparing an in-depth analysis of student achievement and how to best keep improving.

Motivating Students: Often I have heard from our students that things are "finally clear" to them after Ms. Stefanishin has spent some time in their room for a series of demonstration lessons. Her after-school class has near-perfect attendance.  The students quickly see that they are being instructed by a master teacher who makes learning both enjoyable and profitable. It pleases her a great deal to work with a struggling reader and to see him/her able to read with confidence, get promoted and see that child placed in a higher achieving class.

Parent/Community Involvement: As Staff Developer, Ms. Stefanishin interacts primarily with staff and students. However, periodically she has the opportunity to work with the parents, addressing them at meetings to explain the format of the latest test, to explain the newest strategies being implemented at our school or giving them tips on how to best help their children with homework and in preparation for upcoming tests. Day  or night, Ms. Stefanishin never fails to extend herself. The needs of the school, children and community are her paramount interest.

Name of nominator: Mrs. Jeanette Sosa, Principal




Show email





Education Update, Inc.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2004.