May 2004 Outstanding Teachers
of the Month
Principal: Mark Levine
Superintendent's Name: Irma Zardoya
Name of School: PS 24, Bronx
School District/Region: District 10
Student Progress: Mr.
Bloom teaches the 4th grade honors class. The 28 children
are selected from tests scores (3 and 4), another test,
and teacher recommendations. The evidence of his talent
is that he keeps these gifted children involved and engaged.
There are no behavior problems in his class. Almost all
the children in his class were selected for the 5th grade
honors class and almost all had high 3 and 4s on the 4th
grade ELA. This was the highest achieving 4th grade class
in the entire Bronx last year and will probably be so again
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Bloom had a special gift of being able to make learning fun and
engaging. One example was his use of practical cartoons
to teach social studies and current events. Most teachers
require students to clip an article every week and present
it to the class. Most children find this boring and a chore.
To motivate the children to learn about current events,
Mr. Bloom taught them how to understand political humor
and cartoon symbolism. Sometimes they would select cartoons
from the papers at home; other times he would pick the
cartoon. He had them deduce meaning from symbols, i.e.
that a donkey means democrat, etc. They learned to interpret
symbolic humor as well as understand the parodies in the
events of the day. Mr. Bloom invited an editor of a major
newspaper to discuss how he selected cartoons for the paper.
The children were challenged, engaged and didn't even know
how much they were learning about current events, social
studies and interpretive skills. Mr.
Bloom also motivated the students by getting into their
mindsets. He would often tell the students that he would
do something they considered funny or crazy. He once told
a particularly messy student that he would shave off his
beard if the student kept his desk clean for two weeks.
He actually kept his word and shaved his beard!
Motivating Students: Perhaps
the best evidence of Mr. Bloom's ability to motivate children
comes from one of his pupils, on the first day of the year
with a new teacher. With a sigh, she said wistfully of
4th grade, “Last
year we had the time of our lives with Mr. Bloom, and we
didn't even know it.” All the children, who moved from
4th to 5th grade honors at PS24 immediately felt the loss
of a special and enjoyable learning environment. One of the
most interested ways Mr. Bloom motivated students was to
build activities around a common book the class read together.
One book was Sadako about the young Japanese girl who was
burned in Hiroshima. He divided the class into groups: one
group studied Einstein and atomic energy; another leukemia;
and another Japanese culture. The groups did different presentations
to the class—a play with Kimonos and arranging a presentation
on disease. Mr. Bloom then took the class to the Museum of
Natural History to see the exhibit on Einstein. It was amazing
to see 9 and 10 year olds interested in correspondence between
Roosevelt and Einstein on the morality of atomic weapons.
Mr. Bloom had made them excited about a story and all its
Parent/Community Involvement: Mr. Bloom always engaged parents when we came to class. One way was
to create game shows where parents and children had teams
and played Jeopardy-like games with information from recent
lessons mixed with trivia. This year he is running the
afterschool basketball program until spring. And he is
always an active participant in the school fundraising
Name of nominator: Jennifer
J. Raab, President, Hunter College
Principal: Jayne Godlewski
Superintendent's Name: Peter
Name of School: Seward Park High
School District/Region: District
Student Progress: Since
she has a tendency to easily connect to students, a skill
that she developed while working as a dean, her classes
are always well attended and thoroughly enjoyed. She has
taught a wide range of activities and has been cognizant
of diversifying lessons that motivate and interest students.
As a result, she became the driving force behind the preparation
of a proposal, which resulted in the receipt of a significant
amount of money, which was utilized to open a state-of-the-art
Innovative Teaching Strategies: In concert with academic standards, Margaret has incorporated literacy-based
activities and critical thinking into her physical education
classes and tailors instruction to ensure student success
on all levels. In contrast, when students need additional
support, she anages to find the time for them to complete
an independent study project.
Motivating Students: Margaret
has participated as the team leader in a Board of Education
sponsored Health Institute and created an action plan which
sensitized the school community to the need for improving
their health via several activities which culminated in
a one-mile walk-run. Due
to Margaret's leadership, this event has since been added
to the schedule of school wide activities and is one that
both students and staff alike always enjoy.
Parent/Community Involvement: Within the last three years, she has become certified as a conflict
resolution specialist. In fact, her involvement in our
mediation program has strengthened and enhanced it, as
well as helped to prevent numerous situations from escalating
into physical altercations.
Name of nominator: Jayne
Principal: Judy L. Mittler
Superintendent's Name: Martin
Name of School: IS 125, Queens
School District/Region: Region
Student Progress: Students
have shown progress in their work through formal assessment,
portfolios and performance examinations. At least 97% of
Mr. Burger's students consistently pass the New York State
Innovative Teaching Strategies: To this day his lessons are perfection. Ideologies have come and gone
over the years, but Mr. Burger educates, always embracing
the new, and honing his craft to the ultimate level. Recently,
a group of principals visited our school. They very politely
greeted each teacher and stayed for the obligatory few
minutes. Upon reaching Room 501, they were mesmerized by
the lesson Mr. Burger taught on trigonometry. They stayed
the entire period and raved about his stellar performance
and how engrossed they, themselves, were in the content.
As educators, they were aware of the “textbook” use
of questioning techniques and the intense engagement and
rapport was evident between teacher and student.
Motivating Students: Ronald
Mark Burger chose to be an educator of mathematics. With
his capacity for knowledge and his intense intellect, he
could have been a success in other careers. He chose the
profession that is the most important to our future as
a people. That is teaching. He believes that teaching,
or education as he prefers to refer to it, makes the supreme
contribution to our
world. He has made a significant difference in the lives
of over 5,000 impressionable adolescents in a stellar thirty-four
What makes this man worthy of such accolades?
In all his years as a teacher, he has brought out the best
in his students. He has encourages, illuminated and enriched
the lives of his intermediate school students of IS 125.
One of his first students is now a very successful multi-millionaire.
Those who are in the field of education realize the intensity
of the task of teaching and the commitment one needs to be
Parent/Community Involvement: Mr. Burger has been a constant resource to the IS 125 school community.
Each new year presented opportunities for him to augment
the quality of his educational learning environment. He
has served as Math Team Coach, teacher mentor, school treasurer
and programmer. He completed all of these tasks, always,
with accuracy and expertise. His math teams won district-wide
as well as citywide competitions. He has motivated several
new teachers to commit to a career in education. In fact,
one of his former students actually teaches math in our
school. He helped IS 125 run smoothly and efficiently and
has made a critical difference over the years.
Ronald Mark Burger can look back upon a flawless
career with a sense of satisfaction. His effort and high
expectations are most evident in his instruction of his students.
He is able to present his extensive knowledge of core concepts
in mathematics clearly so that our students can internalize
them, test them against their own knowledge, and challenge
them to better understanding. Mr. Burger creates a learning
environment where students are comfortable and willing to
share ideas. He is a constant source of motivation and professionalism.
He is an educator bar none.
Name of Nominator: Brenda
McClellan, Assistant Principal
Principal: Mr. James Philemy
Superintendent's Name: Mr. Walter
Name of School: P.S./I.S. 208,
School District/Region: District
Student Progress: According
to our in house assessments, and Princeton review, our
students are achieving at a higher level than the beginning
of the year.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mrs. Rodger has implemented the Teachers College Readers and Writers
workshop model and has managed to incorporate her own creative
Motivating Students: Her
6th grade students have become more interested in the new
curriculum and more willing to approach learning in an
apprentice point of view.
Parent/Community Involvement: Mrs. Rodger run the Random Acts of Kindness club that has raised money
for various communities based organizations. She meets
with the club on a regular basis and creates fundraisers.
Name of nominator: Ilyssa
Mandell, Assistant Principal
Superintendent's Name: Reyes
Name of School: Aviation High
School District/Region: District
24 Region 4
Student Progress: Over
the past 4 years we have seen an increase in the number
of students seeking admission and enrolling into our Fifth
Year Honors Program. As Senior Advisor, Mr. Sosa has aggressively
overseen student's deficiencies and worked with them to
seek corrective action and meet graduation requirements.
For the past two years, we have seen a one hundred percent
graduation rate from our Fifth Year Honor Students under
Mr. Sosa's leadership. Through his motivational speaking
and presentations he has reshaped student's attitudes towards
education and their school. He has made students cognizant
of the value of school culture tradition and camaraderie
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Sosa's style could definitely be described as innovative. In a school
system, where classes are overcrowded, Mr. Sosa has found
a way to personalize his lessons to reach every student.
Mr. Sosa has a way of motivating the most challenging student.
His message resonates well with our youngsters. He has
taken failing students under his wing and has become their
mentor. The results of Mr. Sosa's motivation are students
who look forward to doing well in school. He provides individual
attention to students at risk and serves as a role model
to all. Mr. Sosa instills confidence, motivation, and self
esteem in his students
Motivating Students: In
addition to the personalized style Mr. Sosa utilizes, he
has created a number of informative brochures and newsletters,
such as, The Senior Profile, Tools For Success, and The
Honor Roll List. He has created bulletin boards that reflect
the school's strengths and performance. Throughout the
building, he highlights key dates such as “days left
to graduation”, “days left for regents exam”, “days
left for Fifth Year Application,” etc. Students react
to these reminders posted throughout the building. He has
initiated these strategies to keep students informed and
in tuned to the school environment. Mr. Sosa does all of
this unconditionally, never asking recognition.
Parent/Community Involvement: Mr. Sosa involves himself in all school functions such as the School
Leadership Team, Parents Association, Color Guard and Drill
Team, The Vocational Industrial Club of America, and the
In his personal life he serves on the School
Leadership Team in his children's school. He serves the United
States Government as a Designated Mechanics Examiner for
the Federal Aviation Administration and a Warrant Officer
in the United States Naval Reserve.
Mr. Sosa represents a tremendous asset to Aviation
High School. He believes that all youngsters deserve an opportunity
to reach their fullest potential. He exemplifies this in
all he does. He continuously demonstrates loyalty and devotion
to the Aviation High School Community. He has earned the
greatest respect form his colleagues, parents and students.
We take great pride in recommending Mr. Sosa for Outstanding
Teacher of the Month.
Name of nominator: Mrs.
Eileen B. Taylor, Principal
Principal: Elba Lopez-Spangenberg
Superintendent's Name: Irma
Name of School: PS 33, Bronx
School District/Region: Region
Student Progress: Miss Vazquez has been
a teacher in our school for the last 12 years. Without fail
her students show remarkable improvement in their reading,
math and social studies tests. Her students produce the best
writing and the best research projects in our school.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Miss Vazquez
integrates math, science and technology with all the academic
subjects. She implements the workshop model in all her lessons.
She was selected by our region as a lead teacher. She is
leading other teachers in our school to improve their teaching
Motivating Students: Her students write
books of poetry, complete science research projects for the
region's science expo, their notebooks are exemplary, with
ample evidence of rigorous schoolwork. Their school attendance
is excellent and their over all achievement is outstanding.
Parent/Community Involvement: Poetry reading,
celebration of literacy, science expo, school play Man
of La Mancha.
Name of nominator: Elba Lopez-Spangenberg,
Principal: Julia Rivers-Jones
Superintendent's Name: Dr. Susan
Name of School: Seton-Falls
Elementary P.S. 111, Bronx
School District/Region: District
11, Region 2
Student Progress: Ms.
Weissbart is a gifted teacher. The students in her first
grade class are writing, speaking about their writing and
demonstrating their understanding of the creative process.
Their Writer's Notebooks are exceptional. The students
have beautiful work folders and the classroom is replete
with samples of their outstanding work.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Weissbart has created the most positive learning environment you
can imagine. She expects the best from her students and
uses every opportunity to lay a strong foundation in academics
and behavior. Children take responsibility for their learning
and are eager to share their work with any visitor fortunate
enough to enter Mrs. Weissbart's room. Children understand
that the classroom is their work environment and they approach
the learning task with pride and commitment.
Motivating Students: Our
school is participating in Nationwide Learning's Student
Treasures writing program. This program will help our children
become published writers and Mrs. Weissbart's class is
actively engaged in producing products worthy of publication.
Additionally, the class has one of the best attendance
records in the school, which attest to the fact that children
love to be here.
Parent/Community Involvement: Parents are actively engaged in reviewing and supporting their child's
academic progress and growth.
Name of nominator: Julia