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Teachers of the Month


















New York City
December 2002

Teachers of the Month

Verlinda McGough
PS 87, Queens
Arlyn Brody, Principal
Joseph Quinn, Superintendent

Verlinda McGough’s main focus throughout her career in education has been Bilingual and Special Education. Verlinda and her marvelous team, which consists of other teachers who cooperated to form a Bilingual/Monolingual co-teaching partnership in Kindergarten, have proven that with a strong educational background, and with tremendous love and motivation, all students can learn.

At PS 87 in Queens, Ms. McGough has been the school’s main cheerleader for Dr. Mel Levine’s “Schools Attuned Program,” Dr. Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligence Approach” and Lucy Calkins’ Reading and Writing Workshops. Her expertise is eagerly shared among other staff members, and her energy level is always at its peak.

This summer Verlinda joined a team from PS 87 in Washington, DC, to accept a CVS Foundation Grant in an effort to continue spreading Bilingual/Monolingual co-teaching partnership to the other grades. As a charismatic leader in education, she is often called upon at her school to play host to the many visitors to PS 87 each month. In addition, Ms. McGough is an enthusiastic supporter of brain research, inclusion and quality instruction.


Adele Leibowitz
Canarsie High School, Brooklyn
Joel Shapiro, Ed.D., Principal
Charles Majors, Superintendent

Adele Leibowitz is a nursing teacher par excellence. She has created the type of learning environment often only available at private and specialized schools. Ms. Leibowitz has created a comprehensive career education program that enables high school students to gain “hands-on, minds-on” education in the nursing sciences, which gives them a chance to do nursing at a local residence for senior citizens.

Ms. Leibowitz does not confine herself to a regular workday; her day is as long as it takes for her students to achieve success. Her devotion of time is also reflected in her unique ability to form relationships with her students and know them personally. She is actively involved in the upgrading of curriculum and recruitment of youngsters into this most worthwhile area of learning.


Maria Croce
Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn
Saul Bruckner, Principal
Charles Majors, Superintendent

Marie Croce (left) is a highly respected language teacher at one of Brooklyn’s premier high schools. Her success lies with her ability to focus on student empowerment through independent learning. As a teacher genuinely concerned about students’ needs, she makes herself available as a tutor outside of the classroom and extends herself both before and after the school day. For example, she provides afternoon and morning sessions for students who wish to take the National Italian Examination and to those who participate in national language contests. Her compensation for all her hard work comes from the high praises of her students.

Ms. Croce demonstrates sensitivity toward all students and meets all challenges with eagerness and enthusiasm. It is not uncommon to find Mrs. Croce actively involved with students, engaging their minds with cultural and current event issues. She respects students and validates their opinions. She is the moderator for the Italian Culture Club, which promotes cultural unity and has raised hundreds of dollars for charities including the September 11th fund.


David Johnson
Martin Van Buren High School, Queens
Marilyn Shevell, Principal
Norman Strauss, Ph.D, AP, Soc.Studies
John Lee, Superintendent

David Johnson is on a mission. His mission is to educate all children. A man of immense dedication, Social Studies teacher David Johnson is both a scholar and a gentleman. Just as an actor needs a stage to be truly appreciated, Mr. Johnson needs a classroom full of students to sparkle.

David Johnson teaches a heavily subscribed class in African-American History, and acts as faculty advisor to the numerous in-schools clubs including the Filippino Club, the Pakistan Club and the African-American Club. As a scholar, he has been awarded numerous N.E.H. and Fulbright Grants for study both in the U.S. and abroad. He has also been selected to participate n a number of Gilder-Lehrman History Institute Programs during the summer. In each instance, his students become the benefactors of his scholarship.

Mr. Johnson also believes in making outside connections for his students inside Martin Van Buren High. He invites guest speakers, and through his involvement with the China Institute, the Japan Society and the Korea Society, he has helped to open the minds and eyes of our students.

As a reward for his greatness as a teacher he was recently selected as Social Studies High School teacher of the year by the A.T.S.S.


Ellen Blond
P.S. 16 Queens
Audrey Murphy, Principal
Joseph Quinn, Superintendent

Ms. Bond joined forces with the Board of Education in 1996. It was a lucky year for Community School District 24. Ellen has worked her way into her position of an excellent early childhood teacher—she began as a paraprofessional in the city’s schools—and now ranks, in the opinion of her Principal, as one of the top kindergarten teachers in Queens, if not the entire city. The mother of two young girls, she is now in her second year of teaching.

Ellen Bond is a woman of an unassuming nature and ability to consistently examine and question teaching practices. She is so conscientious, she often asks herself: “Am I doing the best possible job I can do for these children?” Despite having only one and a half year’s experience, her development in such a short time is extraordinary. Recently, she has volunteered her time to attend extensive math training in Math Their Way and to serve as model classroom in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop for America’s Choice.


Lillian Hopkins
I.S. 72, Staten Island
Peter Macellari, Principal
Christy Cugini, Superintendent

Lillian has been a teacher for over 30 years and she still loves teaching. When asked when she’s retiring, she smiles and says, “I’ll miss it so much.”

Lillian teaches math. Despite her years of experience, she is always looking for new, innovative methods that will help her to get through to her students. She sacrifices her lunch period to offer tutoring to those students who need extra help. She has served as a team leader for her eighth grade classes, organizing team brunches, parent meeting and trips for the students. She is constantly volunteering on different committees to help her students and the school community. Even in what may be her final year of teaching, she has volunteered to be the Penny Harvest chairperson for her academy and is encouraging students to donate money to different charities.

Not too long ago, Lillian was thrilled to receive a letter from the publication, Who’s Who in Teaching. A former student had recommended her. Lillian had obviously made a lasting impression on that student, as she has done with so many of her students.

Lillian Hopkins is truly a special person, teacher and colleague. She goes far beyond the call of duty for her beloved students and school.


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Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001.
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