We are delighted to announce that Suzanne Vradelis, second and third grade teacher at West Portal School, is our December Teacher of the Month. Ms. Vradelis has wowed us with her creative and personal approaches to learning.
Every year, Ms. Vradelis works with a team of educators to write and produce a completely original musical. When nominated, she just had led 150 students in their performance of RED, a self-aware musical fairy tale that attempted to answer the question: How do we engage less-engaged students? The act of creating and working on the show seemed to be the answer for many of the children at West Portal; each student shined in his or her performance as he or she took away the message that being involved was not only educational, but fun as well. The moral was taken to heart, as several students soon after wrote and acted in a short film about safety and student behavior, led by Ms. Vradelis.
Ms. Vradelis brings her creativity in education into more standard subjects as well. Instead of approaching English, history, and social studies as separate subjects, she fuses the disciplines to create an immersion experience within her own Room 37. The students in Ms. Vradelis’s class will, for example, learn about the history of the Victorian period, its architecture, and its people, before making creative writing pieces about an imagined boy or girl who lived in the time period. At the end of each school year, she compiles these works into individual hardback student anthologies, complete with author biographies and the students’ best writing samples. Ms. Vradelis also brings visual art into her curriculum; the students make sculptures, masks, and paintings as tangible examples of what they have learned in any given unit.
The students at West Portal School are lucky to have an educator with as much enthusiasm and creativity as Ms. Vradelis. Congratulations again, and keep up the good work!