Outstanding Teacher and Principal of the Year
Win Free Trips to Austria
Outstanding Teacher of the Year Margaret Breen of Seward Park High School, New
York and Jeanette Sosa, Principal of PS 151 Brooklyn won free trips to Austria
sponsored by Austrian Airlines at the 2004 Education Update Outstanding
Teacher ceremony. Education Update interviewed them about their experiences.
Education Update (EU): How did you feel about winning?
Principal Jeanette Sosa (JS): I was so excited about it; I couldn’t
believe it—I never won anything so elaborate.
EU: Have you been to Europe before?
JS: I had been to Spain and Paris. This was my first time in Vienna.
EU: What were your impressions of the country?
JS: It was very clean. Things seemed very organized. One of the first
things I noticed was that on the subway there were no ticket agents—you
didn’t have to buy the tickets from a ticket booth. Everything was computerized;
people were just going in and out.
EU: Was there anything else about the functioning of the country that
JS: People are low-key and quiet. It also seemed like it was a melting
pot. People from so many different countries live in Vienna and I was surprised
to see that. I went with my daughter, a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at Binghamton
University and she was impressed with the fact that there are so many different
kinds of people from so many different countries. We spoke to someone while we
exchanged our monies, and she compared living in US to living in Vienna. She
said that clothing is extremely high priced, but in her country, they get paid
for all medical services. In the US you have to pay a lot for the dentist, but
in Vienna the government pays for that. So we were impressed with some of her
responses with reference to cost of living and the way that they live.
EU: What sites did you visit?
JS: We visited the Castle where Maria Teresa lived. We also walked through
the maze, the gardens. We went to the Butterfly House—I loved that. It
was like a nature setting, very tropical. We also went to the world’s oldest
zoo and my daughter was impressed with how close you can get to the animals at
that zoo. We also went to a church, one of the most famous churches in Vienna,
with a tall steeple, which very beautiful, and elaborate. We also went dancing
and were surprised to see that Vienna has a lot of Salsa clubs. We went to one
where there was meringue, salsa and bachata dancing, everything you see in New
York City. People sung Spanish songs and we had a lot of fun with that. The hotel
we stayed out was one of the most modern hotels there so we were very comfortable.
We traveled by metro everywhere and we felt comfortable doing so.
EU: Were there things you learned on trip that you could apply to the
JS: At the zoo we met a junior high school class and I asked the teacher
how the students are. She said that they are very well behaved. They are children
just like here—taking class trips and working on reading and math.
EU: What were the best things about the trip?
JS: We were able to relax and explore and venture off to new domain, a
new country. The city streets were so beautiful. I would say ninety nine percent
of the housing there is beautiful, with cement and wooden blocks as opposed to
shingles. I was impressed with the pharmacy in Vienna. At one point I had a bad
allergy and the pharmacist was able to give me something without a prescription.
I wasn’t able to read the box, but they were able to explain exactly how
to use it and my allergy subsided.
EU: Do you feel the trip changed your perspective on life?
JS: Oh yes, it enriched my life as well as my daughter’s.
Education Update(EU): What was your response to winning the raffle?
Margaret Breen (MB): It was a wonderful surprise. It was a very nice event,
and then it ended with the raffle and I was thoroughly surprised.
EU: Had you been to Vienna before?
MB: I had been to Austria, but this was first time in Vienna
EU: What was impressive in Vienna?
MB: It’s a wonderful city. The music and musical background added
to the culture of Vienna. The architecture was very impressive, and the people
were very sophisticated in general.
EU: Was there anything you could apply from the trip to the classroom
MB: I do use music in the classroom and I do try to integrate classical
music, so I probably had a deeper appreciation for classical music that I might
apply to the classroom.
EU: Which composers where impressive?
MB: Mozart as well as Schubert.
EU: What was the best thing about the trip?
MB: I went for nine days, so the length was nice. It was during the February
break, and I did other things—I went to Salzburg, Budapest and Prague.
EU: Was there anything that stood out in those areas?
MB: In those areas, coming from a Communist Bloc country, they were not as progressive
as Vienna, certainly not as wealthy as Vienna, but the architecture and the people
were very nice. The architecture in Prague certainly was very impressive.
EU: Would you want to return to Vienna?
MB: Sure, I would go back.
EU: Is there something you can apply from the trip to the general education
MB: Just the experience of seeing how different people experience different
things and live, just add to the broadness of my character and the tolerance
that I bring to my position. #