of the Month — May
Principal: Edwin Irizarry
Superintendent: Myrna Rodriguez
Name of School: Community School 150, Bronx
School District/Region: 12/2
Student Progress: Ms. Teti’s students for the most part are in their
second year with her. She had the advantage of looping with her class. During
her one and a half years of teaching them she has marked noticeable growth
with her students. Students who barely came in as readers and writers now follow
the daily routine of journaling and reading independently, in groups and with
the teacher. Their E-class assessments show marked improvements in fluency,
decoding and comprehension skills. With her most challenging students, Ms.
Teti provides extensive one-to-one and small group remedial attention. Ms.
Teti takes pride in being a highly organized teacher who promotes a disciplined
structured environment for her students. The students know how to access all
of the resources in their classroom, as everything that is visible serves a
useful purpose. The student portfolios are indicative of a teacher who encourages
all freethinking and creativity from her students. She doesn’t cover
a page in red, but instead will attach a post-it note with questions to further
the child’s thinking. Keeping her expectations clear to the students
is one of her most valued assets.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Teti will devise systems and routines to
make her classroom a smooth functioning machine. The students know the “signals” and
are rewarded for complying with the classroom rules. Ms. Teti has a particularly
challenging child. For this child, she has tried several methods to reach and
teach him. In order to teach him to focus on his work, she has bought him a
timer and he now toggles between work and free time. Work time has been elongated
as weeks have passed. The child has also been given a personal checklist that
he puts stickers on to note everything he has accomplished during the day in
terms of classroom routines. When the child has been good, she has a reward
box just for him to play with during free time and when he deserves it.
Motivating Students: With her class, Ms. Teti motivates her class by having
Publishing Parties and classroom themed events. She works hard at creating
a nurturing environment that exudes warmth and practical, children-based learning
centers. The students write on sentence strips and posters for the classroom
environment to be filled with print-rich student work. In order to further
motivate the students Ms. Teti has taken the students on trips to stimulate
their curiosity and broaden their knowledge base. Right now, while teaching
life cycles and animal behaviors, Ms. Teti is raising frogs with her class.
The students make their observations each day and are eager to read more on
their newly born class pets.
Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Teti writes letters to her parents to engage
them in classroom learning activities. She invites them to partake of classroom
events and to contribute to the learning of their children. She calls her parents
to inform them of both good and bad. Ms. Teti will send a specially made reward
for the students to bring home to let the parents’ celebrate their student’s
Principal: Digna Erstejn
Superintendent: Reyes Irizarry
Name of School: 51st Ave. Academy, Queens
School District/Region: 24/4
Student Progress: Ms. Goldberg’s 5th
grade students always show growth academically and socially.
The success rate in her class is almost 100% in English Language
Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics as per city
and state test scores. This is due to the challenges she affords her students
every single day. Even during her preparation periods and lunch she manages
to teach them chess and urges them to use higher level thinking skills during
class discussions. The students demonstrate their knowledge by their products,
which improve as the school year moves forward. Though her students are highly
competitive, they do manage to work collaboratively when solving problems
or when writing scripts for their assembly plays that are
based either on Shakespeare or on contemporary issues. All
these activities contribute to the achievements of her class.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Goldberg integrates
all subject areas in reality-based projects with thoughts and ideas that
motivate them to think in terms of social needs or issues. Projects this
year dealt with the environment, Civil Rights, World War II issues, and proofs
of Laws of Gravity and centrifugal theories, etc. Her students become playwrights
and lawyers who debate social issues. She instills in them social responsibility
by conducting debates in her class and prepares them for their future roles
in society. In addition, she is sensitive to students’ individual needs
and provides one on one to those who are lagging behind, promoting them from
a level 2 (state results) to a level 4. Overall, she exposes the students
to rich curriculum that is real, challenging, and makes them aware of future
possibilities under a non-threatening environment.
Motivating Students: Her teaching methods motivate students
to reach their highest potential and become enthusiastic learners. Grateful
students return to visit because of her ability to keep them enthralled in
learning. Visiting her class, one can see the enthusiasm for learning during
the deep discussions on books or particular issues. Students were so involved
in this Socratic classroom that, at times, they would miss their bus. You
can also find her students engrossed in their reading because Ms. Goldberg
has been able to transfer her love for literacy by modeling and sharing her
weekend readings with them. Ms. Goldberg’s
students produce many projects that become numerous as the year progresses.
The 5th grade mathematics curriculum is completed by February and students
move on either into 6th grade or 7th grade mathematics. In literature, they
start the year with Roald Dahl and by December they are tackling Shakespeare.
Students publish essays in September and later in the year they publish books.
Their learning culminates in an assembly presentation based on what they have
read and is an expression of their creativity and the knowledge acquired. When
conversing with Serena’s students in the spring, one realizes that
their academic vocabulary is comparable to that of high school students.
Ultimately, test scores are clear evidence of their academic achievements.
Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Goldberg has good relations with parents
and teachers. She maintains contact with the parents of her students via letters
or phone calls. This communication also contributes to the achievement of her
students. She shares with her colleagues her projects and thoughts regarding
curriculum and how to teach in a way that this curriculum becomes alive.
Principal: Joan Washington
Superintendent: Dr. Susan Erber
Name of School: PS 811, Queens
School District/Region: District 75
Student Progress: The students in Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s class have shown
progress in their work as reflected in a variety of assessment measures. The
teacher uses authentic assessment to determine the real-life activities that
she selects for her high school age students with significant disabilities.
For example, if a student shows a weakness/deficit in measuring, the teacher
plans cooking lessons for the student. When a student exhibits problems with
motor activities, the teacher plans laundry lessons for the student where the
student performs the task of folding, sorting, and organizing. All of Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s
plans foster independence skills first and foremost for her students.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Brandt-Blanc uses innovative
teaching strategies daily to engage her students. First of all, she uses
differentiated instruction to make sure she taps every student’s learning style. Ms. Brandt-Blanc
adapts each lesson by offering augmentative assistive communication devices
(AAC) technology, and listening tools for students with language, hearing and
motor problems. The teacher believes and practices Community-Based Instruction
as a foundation for vocational and social skills training. She is a model teacher
for our Career Education Program, always finding new jobs for her students
to perform, while continuing to challenge them with a rigorous curriculum.
In school her class organizes the “Lunch to Go Program,” and the
Laundry Program they call, “Bright Waters.” Finding
the right balance between the academic and functional, practical skills
for our students are clearly one of Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s strengths.
Motivating Students: Ms. Brandt-Blanc has motivated students
to be more involved in classroom activities by selecting those that truly
interest teenagers! Some examples of activities planned and implemented
by her class are the Common Cents Penny Harvest collections for the needy,
Waldbaums shopping for families and staff for the vocational program. Take
orders, make change, prepare and deliver “Lunch to Go” to staff and school visitors. Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s
class won a grant to install garden boxes in front of the school to beautify
the landscape. Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s class celebrated Dr. Suess’s
Birthday by reading and role playing characters in his books. They organized
a Crazy Hat Day for all of the classes in the school. Her class volunteered
to be cheerleaders at our intramural basketball and volleyball games at a neighboring
high school site. They are making pom poms and distributed tee shirts for the “Marathon
Marvels.” As you can see, Ms. Brandt-Blanc motivates her students
and teaches them valuable lessons using real-world activities. Nothing
is more motivating to a class than to see their teacher get directly involved
in the classroom work, participating side by side the students, urging
them on and pushing them to succeed. Ms. Brandt-Blanc likes to show the
students her silly side, creating and wearing her own crazy hat, digging
dirt in the garden, wearing funny outfits to fit the occasion, exercising
and cheering with them. Ms. Brandt-Blanc rewards her students frequently
for their good work through verbal praise, contacting parents, and prizes.
Parent/Community Involvement: In order to increase parent
and community involvement, Ms. Brandt-Blanc developed and implemented several
initiatives for our school. Parents as Reading Partners (PARP) encouraged
parents to read to their children every evening for three weeks. The class
worked together on creating a graph of the books they read at home with
their parents. This worthwhile activity helps families make a habit out
of reading together. Ms. Brandt-Blanc never misses a contest or a project
to sign up her class. They designed a quilt square to incorporate into
District 75’s quilt titled, “Individuals Who
Made a Difference,” depicting Henry Viscardi as a pioneer for people
with disabilities. The quilt is on display for the public’s viewing at
the district office. Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s class has also created a bulletin
board for display at the superintendent’s office. Ms. Brandt-Blanc implements
Community Based Instruction to promote every day skills and appropriate behaviors.
Her students this year are high school age, therefore these are very important
skills for them to acquire. Some examples: Waldbaums and BJ’s for shopping,
Bowling and Outback Restaurant for leisure, Intramurals to other schools for
physical fitness. Her class has made animal biscuits for an animal shelter.
Ms. Brandt-Blanc continues each year to coordinate the Common Cents Penny Harvest
Campaign. The funds are contributed to a worthy case and the students are rewarded
with a mini grant to use for their school. Ms. Brandt-Blanc’s class
decided to purchase garden boxes to beautify the front of our school! All
of these activities encourage community involvement and pride in their
Principal: Martha G. Vazquez
Superintendent: Samona J. Tait
Name of School: P.S. 69, Queens
School District/Region: 30/4
Student Progress: Over the span of 39 years at P.S. 69, Ms. Cashman has consistently
worked to meet the individual needs of all her students. She has substantially
improved the test scores of the pupils in her classes. Students scored sufficiently
high on formal assessments to meet the grade standards. Last year approximately
15 students moved from a level 2 to level 3. Students gained necessary confidence
to participate more in class. Students who had not been doing homework are
now doing it.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: She embraces acquiring instructional
techniques to inform/staff develop teachers as well as students in order
to maintain up to date skills\strategies for all students. She utilizes
brain research techniques in order to raise the participation and learning
level of all students. Students improved in their math skills because
she always works with them individually and in small groups. She evaluates
strength and weaknesses and works with them to improve in the areas in
which they were deficient. She uses concrete math manipulatives to help
students understand concepts. She establishes rapport with them so that
they look forward to working with her. She motivates them to participate
in class and to do their homework.
Motivating Students: Supervisors observe children working
in groups. It is obvious that the children are actively participating
in discussions and group projects. Supervisors observe that she asks
all students to participate in covert and overt activities by using the
phrase “each one of you.” This
technique has shown to increase the rate and degree of learning as well
as demonstrating to students that each one is expected to participate.
At the end of each lesson during the sharing activity the children are
verbally drawing conclusions, making inferences and solving complicated
problems. Students contribute with alternative strategies in problem
Parent/Community Involvement: For many years, Ms. Cashman organized workshops
for parents where they learned about the curriculum and how to help their children
be better students. Workshops concentrate on math, reading, test taking, computer
and geography. The workshops take place after school and childcare is provided.
Because for many parents English as a second language workshops are aimed at
helping parents become more proficient in English. Also, the workshops provide
parents with methods of communicating with the school. In order to acquaint
parents with the cultural sites around the city, she arranges bus trips for
them and their children to visit these sites. Guided trips, each with a theme,
are taken on Saturdays and are very well attended. Parents are enthusiastic
and look forward to participate with their children in attending workshops
and trips planned by Ms. Cashman.
Principal: Eva Garcia
Superintendent: Laura Rodriguez
School: P.S.75, Bronx
School District/Region: 8/2
Student Progress: To teach in a manner that
respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential
if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning
can most deeply and intimately begin.” [Bell Hooks, Teaching
to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom.] It is indeed a pleasure
to nominate Evelyn Fortis as educator of the month. Ms Fortis brings a dynamic
to the classroom, which includes professionalism as well as a commitment and
concern for her students and colleagues. She has created a warm spirit of community
with her classroom. Thus, each student is programmed to learn. They reach extraordinary
levels of competency across the curriculum. As a veteran teacher of 15 years
Ms Fortis’ dedication to the students and school is mirrored in the enthusiasm
she infuses in each task undertaken. Whether in the classroom, Reading Lab,
or Academic Intervention Program, the fact remains, Ms Fortis is a master teacher
who “respects and cares for the souls of student.” There are no
insurmountable obstacles because her exceptions for all students are high.
Incalculable hours are provided in the preparation of each lesson. In addition
to the aforementioned, Ms Fortis provides assistance to all teachers in the
first grade. As indicated by Mrs. Starr, a colleague, “Ms Fortis has
given up preparation periods to mentor newer teachers. She has counseled teachers
and modeled lessons for them. Fortis lends her classroom to teachers as a second
home. In that way teachers can plan collaboratively. Ms Fortis will research
new ideas and share all that she has obtained.” Thus, Ms Fortis’ exemplary
manner of teaching transcends her life as a teacher Ms Fortis’ classroom
routines are carefully planned for her students. Once the students internalize
the routines, the students can navigate through the structured centers and
print-rich classroom environment to learn, study and explore. It is a pleasure
to see first graders getting ready for their “day” at school
in a business-like manner. This seriousness of purpose translates into
students who are on or above grade level in academic areas. They are
programmed for success. And Ms Fortis constantly tells them that they
CAN do it, and that they WILL all go to college. Hence, their dream
and the dream of their parents are her dreams.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms Fortis’ training as a Reading Recovery
Teacher has proven to be beneficial to all students. The strategies she amassed
at New York University are used one-one-one and also in small reading groups.
In addition to these strategies, the Kagan structures, which Fortis developed
over years of study, are also employed in her classroom. Ms Fortis has described
these strategies as fun and instructive. Fortis also utilizes the lessons prepared
and exchanged by the first grade teachers in her study group. These lessons
are carefully discussed for their value in skill building and enrichment. Ms
Fortis’ resourcefulness led her to apply and to receive a grant
from Donors Choose. This culminated in an infusion of Scholastic Magazines,
which has enhanced the Social Studies and Science curriculum. These
articles of high interest supplement the existing study of social studies
and science. It also provides for lessons that are on grade level,
current, and highly beneficial to her first graders.
Motivating Students: Ms
Fortis provides opportunities for leadership among her students.
Her young student-leaders are encouraged to take turns reading
books to the entire class and to think critically i.e. “show
the evidence.” Student collaboration is fostered as
the students work cooperatively in groups, help each other
spelling words, work out problems, and support initiatives.
Rubrics have become an integral part of the daily routines.
All work is carefully reviewed. Written responses accompany
all work. And the Author’s Chair provides the young
author’s with opportunities to share their writing
with a very positive audience of their peers.
Parent/Community Involvement: Through the years Ms Fortis
has formed a partnership with parents, which is fostered
in many ways. First, parents are always welcome on class
excursions as an example of the learning experiences, which
take place outside the parameters of the classroom. Second,
parents are apprised of the progress of students with regard
to any change of schedule, student achievement, and/or student
behavior. Third, Ms Fortis provides feedback to parents on
the progress of the school’s 100 Book Challenge. Finally, during Parent/Teacher
Conferences, Ms Fortis serves as an interpreter for non-Spanish speaking teachers.
Ms Fortis’ commitment to students, parents and teachers is indeed worthy
of much praise. She is a jewel in the crown of Education. A teacher or teachers:
And the personification of the word, Educator.
Principal: Bridget Carrington
Superintendent: Bernard Gassaway
Name of School: Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School, Brooklyn
School District/Region: 79/8
Student Progress: The students of Mrs. DaSilva-Hinds show continuous progress.
She is a dedicated educator and her students have shown exemplary results on
the US History and Government Regents and Global Studies Regents. She is always
in search of various testing taking strategies to increase achievement. She
has incorporated the “Five Step Method” within her lessons, which
provides a guided strategy for answer a multiple choice question as well as
extracting appropriate information for an essay question. This technique demonstrated
by Ms. DaSilva provides the students with a comfortable level for approaching
any multiple choice or essay base question. The students’ portfolios
demonstrate the continuous progress and are used as an assessment tool for
regents preparation. The teacher designed test and the implementation of the
Kaplan component prepares the students for the regents and provides noted achievement
and a mastery passing rate of 90 percent.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: The use of innovative teaching strategies can
always be found in the lesson plans of Ms. DaSilva-Hinds. The students are
motivated and able to verbally express their views and ideas about the related
topics presented in the class. The projects completed by the students demonstrate
the innovative teaching strategies that are constantly incorporated within
her classroom. Mrs. DaSilva-Hinds uses letter writing, timelines, mini-books,
diary entries, creative writing, etc. as tools to express the various topics
of Global History. Students are able to freely express their thoughts of the
topics presented to them and create extraordinary displays that indicate a
thorough understanding of the topic. Ms. DaSilva-Hinds is dedicated to education
thereby producing students of high academic achievement.
Motivating Students: The displays of the students taught by Ms. DaSilva-Hinds
are phenomenal. She motivates the students to produce quality work and nothing
less. The creation of mini-books, diary entries, and letter writings to the
past and future, indicate the innovative strategies implemented within the
classroom. The students produce quality work and are able to verbally express
their work to any audience. The use of technology is incorporated in every
lesson, which enhances learning and creates student motivation. A dedicated
educator, Ms. DaSilva-Hinds, has no problem motivating her students and producing
exemplary quality work.
Parent/Community Involvement: The displays of the Global History class brighten
the first floor Bedford Stuyvesant Preparatory High School. The amount of time
which is displayed within the projects is noted in the comments of the students,
parents, neighboring schools and the community. The students of Ms. DaSilva-Hinds’ class
are proud to hear the positive feedback regarding the displays of the Global
History classes. The students are in the process of partnering with neighboring
elementary and junior high schools to encourage the study of Global History.
Having the support of Ms. DaSilva-Hinds and her creativity, many other students
will have the opportunity to explore the world of Global History.
Principal: Betty Gonzalez-Soto
Superintendent: Laura Rodriguez
Name of School: CS 211 The Bilingual School, Bronx
School District/Region: 12/2
Student Progress: Ms. Borges has been a member of the CS 211 family for 20
years. She possesses that invaluable quality, consistency, which is so very
critical to the success of any school. In her capacity as kindergarten teacher,
Ms. Borges contributes to the very foundation of our educational program. Before
using the ECLAS or any type of formal inventory to assess student performance,
Ms. Borges spends time modeling clear expectations for both her students and
the parents of her students. The first and most important assessment is the
child’s ability to follow directions and adhere to the routines and rituals
of the classroom. Ms. Borges uses the quiet, soft sell method for her brand
of discipline; there is no yelling. There is a set routine which helps develop
a sense of security in both students and parents: punctuality and attendance
are primordial, toileting is scheduled unless there is an emergency, hands
- on activities are essential to demonstrate understanding of the lessons taught,
the classroom design is user-friendly, and everyone gets their homework signed
on a daily basis.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Borges’ years of experience give
her incredible insight into the “how to” of teaching concepts to
the early child. Through the years, she has taken the initiative of mentoring
many newcomers. Her ability to teach her colleagues has never been labeled
professional development; she just shares what she does and how she does it.
This very natural way of imparting knowledge is evident when you see her teaching
her children. Her contributions include the effective use of the literacy block,
thematic - based curriculum mapping, centers- based classroom, leveled library,
and the integration of technology into the curriculum. Although everything
Ms. Borges does seems to flow so naturally, it is a testament to her ability
to scaffold the learning process. Nothing is taught in isolation so that children
have a handle or reference to associate with their lessons.
Motivating Students: Whenever you visit Ms. Borges’ class, you see students
engaged in the process of learning: reading in the rug area, working on their
computers, painting, conferencing about a class project and at other times
just relaxing as they listen to soothing music. Visits always leave you with
a sense of satisfaction. You want to turn back the hands of time and become
that child of yesteryear, once again! To Ms. Borges’ credit many former
students do return to pay tribute to this beautiful woman. Some come to ask
if they can complete their college assignments through her intervention (i.e.
interviews, class observations, etc.) Most of the time, former students come
to visit in hopes that a son or daughter will be accepted into the upcoming
September class. I am one of her many satisfied customers. She taught my son.
To this day, I still remember the first book my son read in his kindergarten
year: A Fly Went By by Dr. Seuss.
Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Borges is very smart in her teaching: she
trains parents to become responsible learning partners. In the spring before
your child enters her class, you receive a letter with supply list, important
dates, and dress code. In September, there is an orientation to outline procedures
and discuss curriculum. You want your child in her class because she exudes
a sense of competence and organization. Most importantly, is Ms. Borges’ level
of patience with students and family members? She makes herself available for
daily contact at dismissal. No one leaves her room or picks up a child without
seeing her and signing her daily log. That is who she is: professional!