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Teachers of the Month


















MAY 2004

May 2004 Outstanding Teachers of the Month

Steven Bloom
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 this year.

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 ramifications.

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 festival.

Name of nominator: Jennifer J. Raab, President, Hunter College

Margaret Breen

Principal: Jayne Godlewski
Superintendent's Name: Peter Heaney
Name of School: Seward Park High School, NY
School District/Region: District 71/Region 9

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 wellness center.

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 Godlewski, Principal  

Ronald Burger

Principal: Judy L. Mittler
Superintendent's Name: Martin Koppelwitz
Name of School: IS 125, Queens
School District/Region: Region 4

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 Regents.

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 year career.

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 successful.

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

Beth Rodger

Principal: Mr. James Philemy
Superintendent's Name: Mr. Walter O'Brien
Name of School: P.S./I.S. 208, Queens
School District/Region: District 29/Region 3

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 techniques

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

Giovannie Sosa

Principal: Eileen B. Taylor
Superintendent's Name: Reyes Irizarry
Name of School: Aviation High School, Queens
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 Senior Advisor.

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

Lynette Vazquez
Principal: Elba Lopez-Spangenberg
Superintendent's Name: Irma Zardoya
Name of School: PS 33, Bronx
School District/Region: Region 1

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 practices.

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

Sharon Weissbart

Principal: Julia Rivers-Jones
Superintendent's Name: Dr. Susan Erber
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 Rivers-Jones, Principal

Education Update, Inc.
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