Encouraging kids to ‘follow their dreams,’ this SI educator wins state teaching award

STATEN ISLAND, NY – A Staten Island teacher has been named the 2022 New York State TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Educator Award winner.

Lisa Friscia, who works at PS 39 in South Beach, was named Elementary School ESOL Teacher of the Year. She was nominated by former colleague Melanie Mirenberg.

Teachers at all grade levels can be nominated for an award if they motivate and encourage students, as well as engage them in productive and stimulating learning – with awards in elementary, middle, high school, early childhood education, and more. adults and at the college level. Friscia was the elementary school winner.

“I was so thrilled – I couldn’t even believe it, that I was selected,” said the Eltingville resident. “I was so happy.”

Friscia was a teacher for 14 years, teaching first and second grades at an elementary school in Brooklyn. While teaching in Brooklyn during her early years at the Department of Education (DOE), she was also earning her master’s degree in literacy.

“At the time, I had all the English learners in my freshman class, so I became more interested in learning how to better support them in the classroom, so I decided to pursue an additional master’s degree in ESL. [English as a Second Language],” she says.

She then went to work at PS 39, where she served the past eight years as an ESL educator. Friscia explained that South Beach Elementary School is a diverse community and strives to serve as an “agent of change and voice for students in the community.”

Friscia teaches English to newcomers from several countries who attend the school. She works and supports teachers in the classroom to help students strengthen their English skills, while providing small group instruction to these ESL students.

“I love working with students and I love celebrating the diversity of our school and embracing and showcasing student strengths and what they can bring to the table,” she said. “I also enjoy working with families.”

During the school year, Friscia explained that she and other teachers work on many cultural projects and introduce various texts so that “students can see themselves in the story”. She said it helps students have a voice and know they are seen.

And one of the goals for this school year is to continue efforts to increase community engagement, especially parents and guardians of ESL students.

“We try to involve them and help them find ways to help their child at home,” Friscia said.

Mirenberg explained in her nomination that Friscia is an innovative and dynamic educator who “instills in students an appetite for the joys of teaching and learning.” She added that Friscia always strives to maximize the educational experience for all students and sets high standards.

An awards ceremony for the recipients will be held at the Sonesta White Plains Downtown Hotel in White Plains, NY on November 5. Those unable to attend in person are invited to a virtual reception on November 3.

Friscia – who will travel with White Plains next month for the in-person ceremony – will be recognized and presented with an honorary certificate and a $300 award.

“This recognition by the state … is certainly a well-deserved honor,” Mirenberg said. “I wish Lisa much luck and congratulations. I am certain that she will continue her journey in education with dedication and passion, in order to make a difference every day for the students under her supervision. She will encourage them to “follow their dreams” and succeed in their studies.


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