Finding New Ways To Teach

West Roxbury Transcript
Lindsay Crudele, Staff Writer

It was a summer of Peruvian exploration, retracing Jack Kerouac’s roads and African political theory for Boston Teachers. Many of them are just returning from trips, funded by Fund for Boston Teachers grants, that allowed teachers to take on some extraordinary extracurriculars this summer.

In the Parkway, one teacher is still in South Africa studying classroom technology, while others have returned from trips that had them studying math in Japan and child language in Germany.

One speech pathologist attended the International Child Language Conference n Berlin for a week, on a grant of $3,525.

“I met with about a thousand attendees, and people presented from all over the place,” said Cynthia Paris Jeffries, a Roslindale resident who works throughout the Boston schools.

She said the insight she gained into how bilingualism is viewed around the world helped confirm what she already thought about it, that it’s a skill that helps rather than hinders the learning process.

Paris Jeffires said that her own experience involves being bilingual with English and Spanish, but that language combinations discussed at the conference ran the gamut.

She said she learned new strategies for working with bilingual or English-as-a-second-language children with language disabilities, and that she plans to prepare a packet to distribute in the schools, as well as a PowerPoint presentation to show her monthly speech pathologist group meeting.

In any spare time, Jeffries said that she was able to tour sites such as the remains of the Berlin Wall, concentrations camps and the outskirts of Potsdam, along with her family who was able to come for the week as well.

Summer math teacher Ana Vaisenstein spent two weeks in Kyoto and Takayama studying how to use the soroban, or Japanese abacus, and its role to modern Japanese on her grant of $4,937. She said she looked to emulate firsthand the experience of being a student diving headfirst into a foreign learning environment, whether that meant coming from a new school or a new country.

Vaisenstein said that her own frame of logic was different from the Japanese way of thinking about math on the beaded tool, and it took her lots of practice to adjust her thought and master the abacus in her private instruction sessions.

“People were every excited. There was a lot of joy when people saw that a Western woman was studying the traditional way,” she said, so much so that she was presented with gifts.

In documenting the use of the abacus, Vaisenstein said she theorized that it was used more in rural areas, but after comparing Takayama to neighborhoods in Kyoto, she found that not necessarily to be the case.

“Sushi bars, grocery stores had them. The link was more about age than where they were located,” she said, seeing older people being the most devoted abacus users.

“This is an amazing opportunity for teachers,” she said, “I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, to study something about that place, in that place, and get to know the city through that lens.”

Jones Selects Model Teachers

NEW YORK – Jones Apparel Group is out to make teachers look and feel their best.

Through the Jones New York in the Classroom program, a nonprofit organization supporting teachers and children’s education, the company turned up at Macy’s at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J., on Saturday to give makeovers and a runway presentation for seven deserving teachers in the area. Jones’ nonprofit beneficiaries – New Teacher Academy, Fund for Teachers, Adopt-a-Classroom and TeachersCount – reached out to schools to offer teachers the chance to participate in the show.

The seven women chosen were Dorotea Binetti, a sixth-grade teacher at Essex Fells Public School in Essex Fells, N.J.; Josette D’Ambrosi, a physical education teacher at M.S. 447 the Upper Carroll School in Brooklyn; Theresa D’Ambrosi, a science teacher at P.S. 10 in Brooklyn; Erin Lubick, a science and technology teacher at P.S. 33 Chelsea Prep in Manhattan; Dory McMahon, a 12th-grade teacher at South Orange/Maplewood School District in Maplewood, N.J.; Karen Young, a pre-kindergarten teacher at P.S. 16 Cornelia F. Bradford School in Jersey City, N.J., and Jessica Zampetti, a teacher of gifted and talented students at Roy Bixby School in Bogota, N.J.

More than 100 shoppers stopped to check out the teachers decked out in the latest fashions from the Jones New York collection. The show kicked off Shop for Education Week, which runs through Oct. 22, when 10 percent of the selling price (up to a maximum of $500,000) of apparel sold from the Jones New York clothing lines – Collection, Signature, Dress, Suit and Outerwear – will be donated to Jones New York in the Classroom.

“Teachers are superstars in the classroom every day, and we made them supermodels to celebrate all that they give to our children,” said Stacy Lastrina, senior vice president of creative services at Jones Apparel Group.

The Jones New York in the Classroom program aims to improve the quality of education and inspires others to do the same. The organization supports efforts to celebrate teachers since the company believes they are the single most important factor in raising student achievement. Jones New York in the Classroom’s efforts have helped teachers who spend their own money to outfit their classrooms (a teacher currently spends an average of $1,200 a year of her own money), offer support for new teachers entering the field, and provide emotional and practical support for teachers and schools nationwide.