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Elementary School Educators

For Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked NYC public school parents to tell us what makes their children's teachers special. Here is what they said about these elementary school and early childhood educators.


teacher a young student face each other outside school building. teacher squats and smiles at student, who wears a mask.
Erica Berger

Christina Levitt, a 1st-grade teacher at PS 144 in Queens, with Henry, her student. Henry's parent said about Levitt: "She sees our son as a whole person and helps him develop socially and emotionally so that he grows into a healthy adult. She is truly one of a kind."

Diane Amaro, special education teacher at PS 140 in Brooklyn
“With her gentle demeanor, she has been able to make magic happen with my son.”

Wilma Ambrose, science teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“My son has developed a love for science because of Ms. Ambrose. He has learned so much about sustainability!”

Laura Bonthuys, teacher at PS 303 in Queens
“Very talented”

Anthony Bosco, teacher at PS 102 in Queens
“Patient and caring”

Laurie Burke, special education teacher at PS 178 in Manhattan
“She is a veteran who comes to work with the enthusiasm of a new grad.”

Franshesca Chaterpaul, 3rd grade teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“Mrs. Chaterpaul has helped my daughter blossom.”

'She truly has an unparalleled gift for helping each child feel seen and loved.' -Parent of a 4th-grader

Deardra Duncan, school counselor at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“She helps my son see his inner strength and value.”

Lisa Friscia, ENL teacher at PS 39 on Staten Island
“Values student voices and highlights different cultures.”

Dina Galanti, teacher at PS 58 on Staten Island
“Immeasurable amounts of kindness and compassion.”

Harriet Hatzipavlou, teacher at PS 234 in Queens
“My son has thrived in her classroom. She is amazing!”

Ayanna Hinds Marshall, special education teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“We need more educators like her.”

Camille Holloman, special education coordinator at Community Partnership Charter School in Brooklyn
“Most dedicated and efficient.”

teacher sits in kindergarten classroom with student
Jonathan Fickies

Iris Nunez, pictured here with her student Trace, teaches kindergarten at Brighter Choice Community School. Trace's parent said, "I can see the progress my son is making. Our school community is blessed to have her."

Virginia Kuppek, kindergarten teacher at PS 340 in the Bronx
“The best role model any student could ever have.”

Marie Leonard, special education teacher at PS 6 in Brooklyn
“She’s a true teacher.”

Christina Levitt, teacher at PS 144 in Queens
“She makes every student feel special.”

Jennifer Licata, teacher at PS 32 in Brooklyn
“She changed the life of my child and our whole family.”

Michelle Lin, kindergarten teacher at 30th Avenue School in Queens
“She is lovely and funny and my daughter trusts her.”

Dominique Mack, paraprofessional at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“Mrs. Mack is great with the kids.”

'She is a constant source of enthusiasm and brightness.' -Parent of a 3K student

Alison McNally, 5th-grade teacher at PS 32 in Brooklyn
“She finds the strengths in everyone and makes her students feel confident.”

Maria Messina, 4th-grade teacher at PS 209 in Queens
“She truly cares about her students in a way every teacher should.”

Jaclyn Morales, teacher at PS 346 in Brooklyn
“When my children lost their grandmother, she was there to help us through our darkest moment.”

Amy Noe, teacher at PS 300 in the Bronx
“Students know they can go to her with any problems or concerns or even to share a funny story.”

Iris Nunez, kindergarten teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“Mrs. Nunez is a compassionate and caring teacher that loves her job and cares deeply about her scholars.”

Dora Onwumere, occupational therapist at PS 178 in Manhattan
“During the pandemic, when we were all exhausted and shell-shocked, she never missed a beat, never changed her sunny disposition, never dropped her passion for her work or her love for the children.”

teacher wearing mask and young student wearing dress sit outside. student waves
Erica Berger

Jennifer Licata teaches 4th grade at PS 32 in Brooklyn. The parent of her student Shira, pictured here, said that Licata "manages to know each child deeply and fully...Shira's face just lights up every time she sees Ms. Licata. Mine does too."

Maria Panuccio, teacher at PS 23 in Brooklyn
“Yo pienso que la maestra Maria Panuccio nació para ser maestra. Tengo una hija que imita ser la maestra Maria Panuccio.” (I think Maria Panuccio was born to be a teacher. I have a daughter who emulates her.)

Karen Perrella, 5th-grade teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“Ms. Perrella deserves to be spotlighted for her love, compassion, understanding, and patience with her students.”

Shaniqua Pippen, kindergarten teacher at Neighborhood School in Manhattan
“Shaniqua is an amazingly perceptive, engaged, observant, and kind teacher who has brought out the best in my son academically and supported him and all of his classmates emotionally during the pandemic.”

Deborah Plunkett, teacher at PS 110 in the Bronx
“She cared for scholars and their families by donating clothing, washing clothing, making house visits and doing other community outreach.”

Hasna Rajai, preschool teacher at PS 627 in Brooklyn
“A genuinely warm and welcoming presence which quickly put our anxiety aside.”

Lillian Rivera, teacher at PS 100 in Queens
“She shows kids love and understanding.”

adult sits next to child in front of a blackboard with the ABCs displayed. adult is smiling at child, who is standing.
Erica Berger

Shaniqua Pippen, an early childhood teacher at Neighborhood School in Manhattan, was nominated by 12 parents. They are pictured here with their student George, whose parent said, "George comes home excited about a broad range of causes and is eager to make a difference in the world. I know so much of that is directly due to Shaniqua."

Miarangely Santiago-Jimenez, teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“Makes my daughter feel special and excited to go to school.”

Teresa Sepe, teacher at PS 58 on Staten Island
“Mrs. Sepe goes out of her way and above and beyond to come up with ways to make sure my boys are learning and confident in themselves.”

Heather Sutterlin, kindergarten teacher at PS 8 on Staten Island
“Her love for children is beyond words.”

Christina Udit, teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“She leads a class that she makes both safe and adventurous.”

Paige Wentworth, special education teacher at PS 58 on Staten Island
“She always tries to find new ways to help keep my son interested and engaged.”

Melisa Wise, 4th-grade teacher at Brighter Choice Community School in Brooklyn
“I appreciate her dedication and communication as well as her empathy for every student in her class.”