New teacher profiles

May 24, 2012

Para-turned-teacher speaks languages of learning
When Ruiying Liu, who was born in southern China, needs to speak to a student or parent in Cantonese or Mandarin, no one bats an eye. But when she talks away to an Hispanic student or parent in perfect Spanish, jaws drop. “They are always so surprised and ask where I learned to speak Spanish so fluently,” said Liu, in her second year at IS 220 in Brooklyn.

March 22, 2012

Solar-powered teaching

“The really fun thing about teaching is when your students come to you excited about something and want to discuss it without your having to bring it up,” said Tom Wilkens, in his first year as a full-time teacher. It helps when the subject matter is nothing less dramatic than earthquakes and tsunamis, which fascinate his students.

January 19, 2012

Smart cookie

Having worked his way up from pot washer to executive chef, Christopher Burgos knows his way around a kitchen. Now he’s getting a feel for the classroom.

October 27, 2011

No failure to communicate

Kristen Mulia had long been fascinated with spoken language. But when she was a linguistics major, that small inner voice said the study of languages might not be meaningful enough. There were other voices, too: her mother’s and her cousin’s. Both said she’d make a great speech therapist.

June 9, 2011

Making a connection

“Trying to keep 7th-graders interested in ‘Of Mice and Men’ can be difficult when what they’re really interested in is the girl walking by with a hall pass outside the classroom door,” says English teacher Mike Amari. Call it the Zen of teaching adolescents — trying to win their minds while their heads are all over the place — “It’s something you learn to work with,” Amari says.

May 12, 2011

Hitting high notes in the classroom

His grandmother used to find him singing in front of the mirror, using a broomstick for a microphone. When he was 3 he started singing at church. Today, tenor opera singer Avid Williams, who has been making his living with his voice for 10 years, is making music at Brooklyn HS of the Arts. As director of the choir and the school’s vocal program, this second-year teacher has found his niche.

March 10, 2011

Making her classroom ‘a little family’

Everyone in the audience at the class play was amazed when a certain little girl said her lines in “Old MacDonald’s Farm.” The child was diagnosed as “selectively mute” on her Individualized Education Program. Indeed, she hardly spoke. So when the 2nd-grader walked to the stage and said, “We are the pigs, we play in the mud and we are very pink,” it was a triumph for the silent, timid child and for her teacher.

February 3, 2011

Life after being excessed

“In my first year I was learning all the teacher buzz words like ‘differentiation,’ but ‘excessed’ wasn’t one of them,” said Amy Trojanowski, who was barely learning the ropes when she heard that new verb and discovered it applied to her.

November 25, 2010

The science of teaching math

In teacher Jessica Remboulis’ classroom, prime factorization rocks. As math teachers know, breaking down a composite number to its prime is best done by creating a diagram of branches splitting off into smaller branches of smaller numbers, a visual tool called a factor tree.

October 28, 2010

‘Birth’ of a new career

The 10-year-old girl who didn’t speak a word of English was frightened during her first few weeks at a Queens elementary school. Now, 25 years later, she’s standing in front of the classroom at PS 46 in Manhattan and loves it. It was a long journey for Hannah Kim — not just from South Korea to America, but from the world of big bucks on Wall Street to the world of little kids in the classroom.

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