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Teachers of the Month



















Outstanding Teachers of the Month - January 2005

Maureen H. Murphy
Principal: Jeanette Sosa
Superintendent’s Name: Reyes Irizarry
Name of School: PS 151K
School District/Region: District 32/ Region 4
Student Progress:
Ms. Maureen Murphy has been teaching at PS 151K for the last thirty-nine years and is still going strong! She has had various positions throughout the years. She has taught second grade, although third grade has always been her favorite.  She has also been a cluster teacher in multi-ethnic reading and science and is currently the school librarian. Ms. Murphy has monitored student progress in a number of ways, such as using student portfolios, informal assessments and responses to literature. The students who took standardized tests always showed dramatic improvement due to her diligent instruction. As the librarian she continues to monitor students’ reading progress, and makes sure that all students are taking out appropriate books at their “just right” levels.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Murphy is renowned for the way she is able to dramatize a story for children.  Listening to her read is such a pleasure because she captivates her audience by changing her voice to portray different characters, and keeps the children engaged throughout the story. She is well versed in using the balanced literacy methods, and her personal love of literature shines through in all of her lessons. Ms. Murphy also secures books through Reading Is Fundamental, where she distributes books to the children three times a year. She also sets up dates for the traveling bookmobile to visit our school, ensuring that all students have access to quality literature.  Ms. Murphy continues to upgrade her technology skills in order to help the students feel comfortable with using the computer to help improve their literacy skills, and search and find information using the internet.

Motivating Students: Ms. Murphy has motivated the students in wonderful ways. She received a Library Power grant which refurbished a bland environment, and created an exciting and inviting atmosphere, as well as updating the entire book collection. At that time, a colorful rug for her storytelling area was put in her room, when it was not yet a popular concept. One year she received the Ezra Jack Keats award, for working with a class that performed a play for the school based on the Keats book titled “Jennie’s Hat.” Ms. Murphy is well-known for working diligently with the upper grade students in order to prepare them for the Spelling Bee, Story Telling and Story Reading Contests, which numerous students have won. Ms. Martinez, who is now a teacher in our school, is a former student of Ms. Murphy’s.  She can recall her teacher always having a smile on her face, and a unique chuckle when she laughed.  She remembers that Ms. Murphy made learning fun and exciting, always focused on the children’s strengths, and built on their talents. She recollects that Ms. Murphy would find a way to compliment every student on a daily basis, and took a special interest in each child. Now as her colleague, Ms. Martinez, who won the Bank Street Teacher of the Year Award in 2003, reports that Ms. Murphy still continues to give her great support and encouragement.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Murphy is always available and has a positive relationship with the parents, administration and staff of PS 151K.  She faithfully serves the teachers as their United Federation of Teachers Chapter Leader, and keeps them abreast of changes in school policies. She serves on almost every school committee, including the School Leadership Team, where she meets with the parents once a month. She also finds time in her busy schedule to provide access for parents to visit the library and take out books for their children on a regular basis. She assists the school in fundraising activities, such as the School Book Fair, which coincides with Open School Week, and by selling items such as pencils, folders and other school sundries. One of her fund raising mottoes is “every little bit helps.”

Rebecca Ruffo
Principal: David Getz
Superintendent’s Name: Hal Epstein
Name of School: East Side Middle School
School District/Region: 2/9
Student Progress:
In early winter of the school year, Rebecca launches into her early 20th century immigration unit, which she designed. The assessments Rebecca uses to learn about her students’ understandings and skills are a first person narrative of a specific immigrant family, and a written scene, complete with costumes and sets that each group of four or five students create for the culminating “living museum” exhibit in our gym in early January. By immersing her students in the world of immigration (see below), Rebecca is able to provide her students with the opportunities to convince themselves that if they could travel back to Hester or Baxter Streets at turn of the  20th Century New York City, they could pass undetected through the crowds.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Rebecca has written a curriculum that immerses our 8th grade students into the world of the early 20th century immigrant. She does this by having her children watch movies such as Hestor Street and Ragtime; visit the Tenement Museum; read Jacob Riess; study his and Lewis Hines’ photos; read oral histories; and historical fiction and poetry. The unit culminates in two summative assessments. The students adopt a specific nationality (Italian, for example) and write about the world of the Italian immigrant from the perspective of that immigrant. Then working in groups, the students create a small stage set and put on a scene from that the life of that immigrant.  These groups are assembled in our gym so that our gym becomes a living museum of early 20th century immigration.

Motivating Students: The evidence that Rebecca has motivated her students can be elicited from their writing and the scenes they produce in our gym. Much like a restoration village in Salem or Colonial Williamsburg, Rebecca’s students completely assume the identities of their subjects. Visitors, after viewing the scenes, can ask the actors questions about their lives. These actors never break character. They are very convincing. The living museum is a thrill for our visiting 6th and 7th graders. After the 7th graders tour, they begin to look forward to their next year in 8th grade when they can participate in the Living Museum project.

Parent/Community Involvement: A strong component of the immigration studies is the interviewing of families and friends and their own immigration experience. Students learn about their own family histories and are able to further identify with the characters they are creating.

Melissa Meehan
Principal: Jeanmarie Wink
Superintendent’s Name: Dr. Kathleen Cashin
Name of School: PS 64
School District/Region: 27/5
Student Progress:
Mrs. Melissa Meehan is a young vibrant teacher who has been a important member of PS 64’s staff for over ten years. Her teaching style brings out the best in EVERY student. She is informative, animated and connects with each of her charges. Just a quick walk into her classroom shows the planning and care that goes into each lesson.  Melissa directs instruction so that each child can work at his or her own pace. Her use of learning styles, cooperative grouping, direct and indirect instruction makes every student an active participant in their own education.

Mrs. Meehan’s standardized test scores consistently show growth within her class year after year. She has found the way to balance fun and instruction so that her students succeed. It is for these reasons that we nominate Mrs. Melissa Meehan as Teacher of the Month.


Cheryl Lee
Principal: Denise DiCarlo
Superintendent’s Name: Allen Dichter
Name of School: Washington Irving H.S.
School District/Region: 71/9
Student Progress:
As a Physical Education teacher, Ms. Lee not only instructs her students on the importance of fitness and well being, but she also instills in them good sportsmanship, team spirit, and development of character.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: In her Physical Education classes, she includes such vital academic subjects as writing and mathematics, thus preparing her students for Regents examinations and college entrance.

Motivating Students: Students are eager to attend her classes. They participate atively in the work and they also appear to be having fun. They respond eagerly to all aspects of the lesson.

Parent/Community Involvement: Ms. Lee coaches the Girls Varsity Volleyball team and in this capacity she and the team have represented the school for over twenty years during which period the team has gained the respect and admiration of the high school sports and athletic community.


Rebecca Saladis
Principal: Deirdre A. Deangelis
Superintendent’s Name: Michelle Fratti
Name of School: New Dorp High School
School District/Region: Region 7
Student Progress:
The student grades are from formal and informal tests, portfolio assessments, individual and group projects, presentations to the class, their attitudes toward learning, behavior and good citizenship. She enriched student learning experience and provides all avenues that lead students to their highest level. Students are allowed to correct their tests so that a few points can be added to the test. On-going assessments of student learning takes place in each lesson. She contacts parents regularly (calls them or writes to them), involving them to help student to achieve their potential. Student work is posted in the classroom to promote learning. She also assigns research projects to her 10th class. Students use data analysis to find out the needs in their community and design an action plan to solve the problem.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: She uses different strategies to motivate students to learn Mathematics.

She uses computer to prepare lessons, worksheet, test and classroom presentation. She knows many software and internet resources. She brings her 10th grade Math class to computer lab once a week to demonstrate math concepts through the Internet or her computer program. Because of her influence, most of students in her class know how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and other software to do the assigned project or course work. She uses TI-83 plus graphing calculators and a projector in math instruction so that she can increase the time of learning and make math concepts interesting and understandable. She is an instructional leader. She gives staff a development workshop for the mathematics department as well as the whole school.

Motivating Students: She integrated many interesting and meaningful activities in her daily lessons such as:

* Carousal activity* problem solver and solution checker activity* share pairs* group work* class presentation* workshop model in the math classroom* research project* student use projector for their presentation* Internet math classroom* “My’’ classroom my work (display students work).

She assigns individual projects and group projects so that students can creative their own portfolio. At the end of term, students will display their work on the display board. She also assigns research projects to her 10th grade class. Students use data analysis to find out the needs in their community and design an action plan to solve community-related problems.

Parent/Community Involvement: She contacts parents regularly (calls them or writes to them) in order to involve them in their learning. She volunteers to tutor her students during the school hours and after school. Parents and students know that she is supportive and always there whenever they need her.

Her student work is always displayed on the open school night for prospective students to our school. She encourages parents to join her class trip. As the math department AIS coordinator. she contacts those parents whose children may be at risk of failure in math and tells them the available resources for their children.

Michael Wotypka
Principal: Joseph Zaza
Superintendent’s Name: Gloria Buckery
Name of School: Leon M. Goldstein HS
School District/Region: 6
Student Progress: Mr. Wotypka consistently inspires students to improve their work and meet high demands and expectations. As an English teacher, he has students revise their work often, most usually after one-to-one consultation meetings he holds with each student. Mr. Wotypka assesses students during the class as well as on exam day. He uses peer review as well as rubrics so that students have clear expectations and work together to submit high quality work. He demonstrates the best work by having students present in class and creates places around the room to display student work. As a result, students in his class have a 90 per cent passing rate on the ELA exam each year.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Wotypka partners with the Roundabout Theatre. Guest speakers work with his students and the class takes many trips to the theatre to study both literature and drama. He incorporates all of the arts into his English classes. He also uses a technique in unit planning that resembles Understanding by Design. This technique allows the teacher to “teach to the big picture.” As a result, the teacher can better gauge student understanding.

Motivating Students: Mr. Wotypka is the director of the school musical. This year, working with the music directors, he is putting on Grease. In the past, he has also advised the student newspaper.

Parent/Community Involvement: Mr. Wotypka works with the Parent Association promoting school events and assisting parents and students meet both graduation and college entrance requirements. He is also an integral part of our liaison with Kingsborough Community College helping to make the school work more closely with the college.



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