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Member Profiles

Ensuring ‘All Are Welcome’

Lisa Friscia, the 2022 Elementary TESOL Teacher of the Year, has helped build a strong and vibrant ENL instructional practice at PS 39 on Staten Island that engages and empowers English language learners.

Prioritizing the planet

Teachers often go above and beyond for their students, but for Seanelle LeeSang, a teacher at IS 68 in Brooklyn, teaching is an opportunity to go the extra mile for the planet, too.

A tale from Ina Friedman, school secretary

A city DOE employee since 1986, Friedman says she now works 24/7. “My phone is always with me. Teachers who work in the building call or text me if they're going to be out and then I have to get a sub. That’s been much harder this year.” She misses the kids and hopes they’ll soon be “yelling and screaming and smiling and laughing without a mask on.”

A tale from Andrea Kasowitz, teacher of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing

The pandemic has created unique challenges for Kasowitz and other teachers like her, “but we're not letting them get us down,” she says. Social distancing affects seating arrangements and masks make it hard to see facial expressions. “I have taught my students that we don't give up when there's a problem,” she says. We solve it and move on from there.”

A tale from Lori Perry, social worker for school-based support programs

“Before I was always visible,” says Perry. “That's gone now. You take on different roles because there are fewer staff and fewer children in the building.” Perry says students’ families are overwhelmed by remote learning and the process for setting up or changing services takes longer. But she’s learned “you have to be creative and adapt to the situation at hand.”

A tale from Robin Kaplan, speech teacher

“There’s nothing that compares to in-person learning,” Kaplan says, “but I'm putting the same amount of energy and love into every session I create, whether in-person or remote.” In a challenging year, Kaplan points to rewards: speaking to parents more frequently, seeing skills carried over from school to home, and deepened relationships with colleagues.