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Teachers of the Month


















MARCH 2005

Outstanding Teachers of the Month — March 2005

Mark Finkle
Principal: Elba Lopez
Superintendent’s Name: Irma Zardoya,
PS 33
School District/Region: District 10/Region 1
Student Progress: Mr. Finkle has been our music teacher in our school for more than 20 years. Sharing Music with children is his greatest delight. He believes that real joy comes not from riches or from praise of people, but from doing something worthwhile. Mr. Finkle’s philosophy is that music belongs to everyone for his or her entire life. He shares the beginning of that journey with all his children. He has established a lifelong partnership with the artist of Music Outreach. During the year every child has the opportunity for many informal and at least one formal performance opportunity. He believes that it is the culmination of all the hard work and discipline needed to perform music well that brings a sense of individual worth and community awareness to our students. Every year our students perform with the West End Philharmonic Orchestra and they are invited to sing at many TV programs and other functions. Mr. Finkle dedicates many hours of his free time to bring children to audition for Broadway Shows. Some of our students have been selected to work in various Broadway plays and TV programs. Most of the students participating in Mr. Finkle’s chorus meet their benchmarks in reading and in Math.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Finkle’s lessons for his students are enriched, sequential and skill building. He plans lessons to teach pattern recognition and mental representation. These skills have been helping our fourth grade students to do well on their math test. In our school, we program weekly assemblies. Our students learn songs and plays to present to parents and other classes. Mr. Finkle records the program on a MIDI Sequencer. Then he plays it back for rehearsals and performances. He also makes tapes and videotape recordings for his students to practice. When he uses a piano accompaniment, he adds other sounds when he records it for a program. He also adds other instruments like percussion or sound effects to spice up the accompaniment. If he is using a composition that is well known, he downloads the MIDI file of this song from the Internet and uses it for his concert. Mr. Finkle integrates Music Education and Technology. He focuses on the technology available for Music-Education; including music-related applications, the latest products for music lessons, software and Web sites that help him prepare for concerts and competitions, track band instruments, and more.

Motivating Students: Our students do well on their math tests. In 2003 88 percent of our fourth grade students scored 3s and 4s on the State math Test. In 2004, 86 percent of our students scored 3s and 4s on the state math test. If you visit, our school you will see how engaged and responsible our students are with their schoolwork. Throughout many years, our school has been out-performing similar schools in reading, math, social studies and science tests. Our students perform at weekly assemblies. They have great skills and discipline working with others in teamwork and group work. Our students’ notebooks, portfolios and other daily work show their progress and discipline. Our science projects get public recognition year after year. Other schools and principals come to learn from us and to bring some of our techniques and ideas to their schools.

Parent/Community Involvement: In our school we have great parental involvement. We have large number of parents at our Weekly Assemblies, concerts at Lehman College, Our holiday’s show, Black History Assembly, Mid Winter Assembly, Spring Show, Mother’s Day Show, Award Ceremony Assemblies, Trips to various concerts and other functions. Many parents volunteer to work with Mr. Finkle to accompany the children when they go to group performances and to prepare for weekly assemblies.


Linda Dominguez
Principal: Lisa Esposito
Superintendent’s Name: Joyce Fonollosa
School District/Region: District 31/Region 7
Student Progress: At least a half-dozen of Mrs. Dominguez’s students were decertified from full-time special education to regular education in the past five years. In the “mainstream” these pupils have achieved academic success, as evidenced by classroom performance and formal assessment. The students who are currently in Mrs. Dominguez’ special needs class demonstrate the ability to go beyond what is required by NYC standards. Whenever you visit their classroom, hands are flying and pupil responses reflect a higher-order of thinking. Students are always “thinking out of the box” and they are never afraid to take risks. Looking at student work (portfolios, monthly writing samples) proves that her students are progressing towards their individual goals. Whenever a student shows competency in a subject area, Mrs. Dominquez mainstreams him/her for that particular subject. The student’s experience within the general education setting helps him progress ever further towards meeting academic and social goals.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Each day the students in Mrs. Dominguez’ class work cooperatively to complete assigned tasks. Their teacher thinks out loud and models specific skills and strategies that she wants her children to learn.  In small groups, paraprofessionals help facilitate the learning process. Watch out!  When you see Mrs. Dominquez donning a cap, DO NOT DISTURB her. That means she’s conferencing 1:1 or with a small group. Little strategies like these help set clear expectations for her students and help innovate teaching and learning.

Motivating Students: Last year Mrs. Dominguez’ class participated in a thematic unit on Native Americans, which lead into a class tradition of students greeting each other in different languages. Each month a different culture is highlighted, thus motivating the students to learn more about multiculturalism. As an Orton-Gillingham specialist, Mrs. Dominguez encourages her students to use all of their senses to solve problems and think critically. Her multi-sensory approach to teaching the core curriculum has provided her students with hands-on experience. In Mrs. Dominguez’ class, all learning styles are met.

Parent/Community Involvement: In September 2004 Chancellor Joel Klein visited Public School 8 for a day. Mrs. Dominguez and her class were hand-selected by the superintendent to help host this historic event. The Chancellor was thrilled with the academic rigor he witnessed in this classroom. For over 20 years Mrs. Dominguez has awed the entire educational community with her ability to “reach” every child. She certainly is a master teacher, an ideal candidate for Education Update’s Teacher of the Month!!


Thomas Porton
Principal: Janet Reda
Superintendent’s Name: Laura Rodriguez
Monroe Academy for Visual Arts & Design
School District/Region: Region 2
Student Progress: Students in Mr. Porton’s Leadership Class demonstrate their progress in a remarkable variety of ways. From projects through which students feed and clothe the homeless, to his AIDS VAN program that provides street corner HIV/AIDS lessons to teens throughout the community, to his annual productions of musical and dramatic programs and assemblies to honor diversity (Black History Month, Women’s History Month, etc), to his “Teen to Teen” Health Conferences held each spring at Montefiore Medical Center to educate and motivate NYC teens to take the lead in health issues, Mr. Porton’s students are constantly developing their self-esteem, caring, and independence that is unique among teens nowadays.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Throughout his thirty-five years at Monroe, Mr. Porton has been at the forefront of using media in his classroom. He uses film, drama, music, art, and computer graphics in a wide variety of classroom strategies to make learning exciting for his students. In the past, Mr. Porton has conducted workshops on the use of film to inspire and educate students in the classroom for other teachers throughout New York State. His use of drama has also been recognized through his HIV/AIDS program, Bronx Youth Creating Compassion, through which he uses role-plays to teach students about safer behaviors. That recognition has included his induction as the only New York City teacher in the National Teachers Hall of Fame, as well as the Disney Teachers Award, the National Caring Award, and, most recently, the New York City Liberty Medal, presented by Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion.

Motivating Students: Proof of Mr. Porton’s success in the classroom is no more complicated than the fact that 50-60 students show up for his Leadership class every morning at 7:45 a.m. in the morning. When other students are on their way to school, Mr. Porton’s students are planning school and community improvement projects that will cause them to grow as both students and caring human beings. He also creates great student interest by allowing his students to participate in a wide variety of special programs, such as the Theatre Development Fund “Stage Doors” Program, exposing his students to Broadway shows, and the National Book Foundation Family Literacy Program, which brings a noted poet to Monroe for a residency each year.

Parent/Community Involvement: As mentioned above, Mr. Porton has actively involved his students in community outreach projects for his entire thirty-five-year career. Virtually every project Mr. Porton creates actively recruits parent and community involvement. He has motivated parent/community involvement in his major musical/dramatic productions, ranging from parental creation of costumes to performances by community groups. This past Thanksgiving, as in many years past, he mobilized hundreds of students and parents to cook and serve dinner for more than 300 homeless men, women, and children. Among his most important and successful recent projects was an “AIDS Orphans Awareness Day” that brought together hundreds of community residents for a day of entertainment and education. A secondary result of that event was the dedication of an 80-foot HIV/AIDS mural for the community, created by Tats Cru, a group of professional graffiti artists who started their careers as Monroe students in the 1980s.


Iris Nazario
Principal: Jeanette Sosa
P.S. 151K
School District/Region: District 32/ Region 4
Student Progress: Ms. Iris Nazario is currently a kindergarten teacher who has taught at P.S. 151K for the past fourteen years. During her distinguished career, she has had a wide variety of interesting assignments. Before coming to kindergarten, she taught first and third grades, preceded by assignments as a computer teacher and science cluster. The little ones in Ms. Nazario’s class show amazing progress for children so young. Using portfolio assessment, informal observations and the benchmarks of Voyager and ECLAS, she is able to assess their progress and document all achievements. When asked how she does it, Ms. Nazario replies, “I just watch their work.” Her room is print rich with student work, and so it is easy to see that there is quite a lot going on.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Nazario uses a wide variety of innovative strategies in her everyday teaching.  She strongly feels that visual stimulation is a most important component of her teaching style. Ms. Nazario states that her approach is to start teaching where the children begin. Where do they need to start? Where is each child in September? This is what she quickly assesses to launch a solidly packed year of instruction. Iris is a nurturing person, and this is very much in evidence in her interaction with each student. She is lavish with praise, where warranted, and the students love her for it.  She gives a great deal of emotional support to her students. Her philosophy is to praise the child and try to ignore negative behaviors wherever possible.

Motivating Students: Ms. Nazario’s students are highly motivated. They are eager to tell about whatever they are doing in class at the moment. They are in kindergarten and they are working very hard. Ms. Nazario brings her skills as a first grade teacher into the kindergarten classroom. Student achievement can be seen in their constant progress. Just contrast their work from September to the present day. The evidence of improvement is right there. They demonstrate excellent letter and sound recognition. Ms. Nazario shares the credit for the children’s progress with the parental support that she sees growing each year. She states that she thoroughly enjoys the constant interaction and dialog with the parents, as they write to her to inform her of each child’s problem, insect bite, burn, or to express a concern or ask a question.

Parent/Community Involvement: The subject of parent involvement is one that is very dear to Ms. Nazario. She states that she welcomes any parent who volunteers to accompany the class on a trip, no matter how many offer to go. She feels that a parent and child sharing a learning experience is just priceless. She beams with pride as she tells of the collaborated projects that parents and children have completed and sent in for display. Parents are always welcome in her room, for any reason, at any time of day. P.S. 151K parents certainly appreciate this openness. It is a pleasure for Ms. Nazario to see that homework assignments are signed and that parents usually stop by to pick up the homework for an absentee child, Parents even request a work packet should an emergency warrant an out of town trip. It is a real pleasure to nominate Ms. Iris Nazario for this prestigious award—Education Update’s Teacher of the Month.


Evangeline Mercado
Principal: Mrs. Eva Garcia
Superintendent’s Name: Laura Rodriguez
P.S. 75X
School District/Region: District 8/Region 2
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Ms. Mercado is indeed a positive force within our school community. Her actions, which mirror her dedication and commitment to the students of P.S. 75X, throughout her years of service, are worthy of note and praise. Her tireless and selfless work is by far worthy of emulation by her peers. Ms Mercado firmly believes in providing equitable and quality learning experiences for all students. She states this can only happen in an environment that encourages and supports the best practices in instruction. Teachers, students, parents, and administrators must become a community of learners. Ms Mercado personifies the best in our profession. Her achievements serve as an inspiration to members of our UFT Chapter at P.S.75X. Her ability to work with all students in an inclusive and positive environment is commendable. As a Reading Specialist, Mercado has constantly demonstrated her ability to guide talented and gifted students as well as strengthen the skills and abilities of reluctant readers in the Reading Lab.

Motivating Students: Ms. Mercado often says that the children and staff of P.S.75X have a special place in her heart. Her fond memories of her student days at P.S.75X have enabled her to create fond memories for all of her students. And each year her students return from high school and college to provide her with their academic updates. Her students continue to make progress one step at a time. I might also note: Ms Mercado’s ability to foster excellence in education is also personified in her academically gifted children: Eric, Felicia and Amanda.  Erica, Felicia, and Amanda are educators today. As a teacher of teachers and member of the P.S. 75X Professional Development Committee, Mercado provides teachers with opportunities for intellectual growth and development. This is initiated through a series of literacy workshops, demonstration lessons, and audiovisual presentations. In addition to the aforementioned, she has designed a weekly study group that enables educators to meet before class and explore current research and writings in the field of education. Her goal is to empower teachers with the instructional practices that can enhance student achievement and prepare the student for life-long-learning.

Parent/Community Involvement: “Parents must be also be empowered to grow intellectually,” states Mercado. As the P.S.75X Parent Liaison, Mercado conducted literacy workshops as well as conflict resolution workshops. She also began talks with the Department of Continuing Education at the Board of Education in an effort to institute the first series of adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for our parents. “Surely, Education is the key. A parent is a child’s first teacher. Parents must be given the skills needed to prepare their children at home prior to entry into a school setting,” Mercado further states. “Parents must also provide the educational support to the child as he/she progresses in school. Students continue to come to school at different stages of preparedness. We must strive to make their education as equitable as possible. The education of a child is a collaborative process. Parents, teachers and children are all involved in that process.” As chairperson of the Team Leadership Committee at P.S. 75X, Mercado helped to write the P.S.75X Comprehensive Education Plan. This plan now serves as a guide for the staff. School Goals and Objectives are outlined and an action plan describes curriculum activities. Today, this Comprehensive Education Plan (combined with a guidance plan and student handbook) helps to clarify the high expectations desired for students and staff.


Richard Parker
Principal: Carmen Gonzalez
Superintendent’s Name: Dr. Marcia Lyles
PS 46, Edward C. Blum School
School District/Region: District 13/Region 8
Student Progress: Mr. Richard Parker has motivated hundreds of students at our school in the instrumental music program. Students who are in music class have made tremendous gains in math and reading due to his personal commitment and teaching strategies. Mr. Parker helps students to understand the relationship between reading music notes and reading a book, understanding counting beats and learning fractions in math.  His continued motivation assists students in improved attendance and class work. Students have measurable increase in DRA reading assessments and informal math assessments used at the school.

Innovative Teaching Strategies: Mr. Parker uses the Yamaha Computerized Keyboard program to keep track of student progress in music. He demands attention and commitment to the music program which then translates to commitment and dedication to student achievement. Mr. Parker insists that students read about great musicians, the challenges they faced and their successes. He spends a great deal of time providing one-on-one and small group instruction to students after school and during intervention periods and on Saturdays. He provides a great deal of visuals with students during instruction to help them learn basic instrumental techniques. Mr. Parker begins instrumental music instruction with Pre K students to help build strong foundations in music.

Motivating Students: Mr. Parker has motivated both students and parents in maintaining academic achievement as their primary goal. Students who do not perform required academic work are not permitted to practice or attend jazz band or music class sessions after school. Mr. Parker checks with classroom teacher to monitor student academic growth in reading and math. Mr. parker meets regularly with parents to encourage tutorial services, music tutoring and instrument purchase for the talented students he encounters every day. Of utmost significance has been the tremendous parent and student participation in the Cafe 46 events at the school. This year’s performance was sold out at over 400 people in attendance!

Parent/Community Involvement: Mr. Parker and the teachers from the art department are responsible for the Project Arts performances for the school year. Each year, the event raises funds for the school music and art department and exposes the new and young musicians and artists to the community. The event of February 16th, 2005 was sold out to over 400 people in attendance.  Cafe 46 has produced incredible parent and community participation for the school. Mr. Parker has been the major driving force for the activities.



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