The Genesis Group and First Source Federal Credit Union are recognizing local teachers who have helped students thrive by going above and beyond, especially during these challenging times.
Teachers have been faced with the challenge of transitioning to distance learning methods, while avoiding any significant stall in course curriculum. Many of those chosen to be honored have successfully adapted to this new teaching style.
Teacher Appreciation Week takes place May 4- 8, and five local teachers have been chosen to be honored, including:
Andrea Palmieri-Bansner, Utica City School District
Palmieri-Bansner has been a Special Education teacher in the Utica City School District for 18 years. She currently teaches fourth, fifth and sixth grade Special Education Resource at Columbus Elementary School. During this unprecedented time, Palmieri-Bansner has continued to adapt to the concepts necessary to effectively teach her students through distance learning. Andrea continues to maximize her students educational experience by creatively using all of the learning platforms at their disposal. She is also teaching her own children at home, who are in Pre-K, 1st and 2nd grade.
Diana Durso, L.S.W., Whitesboro Central School District
Durso has been a social worker for nearly 30 years, with the past 21 years at the Whitesboro Central School District. She has worked with people of all ages, one-on-one and in groups. She is an author, having written a children's story about bullying called "Did You Know That's Not My Name." Durso has been in constant contact with her students and their families throughout the time away from school.
Scott Rogowski, Utica City School District
Rogowski works at Jefferson Elementary in North Utica. He uses unique teaching exercises to get the student engaged. Students, and colleagues, have stated that he makes the classroom experience vibrant and fun. He starts off each Zoom with a game called Gimkit. This is a 10-minute multiplication game where you can buy merchandise and power-up, all while learning math. He also uses this platform to reach out and let students know he is readily available for tutoring.
Erica Pendrak, Whitesboro Central School District
Pendrak teaches first grade at Deerfield Elementary School with sensitivity, compassion, creativity, and fun. Since schools closed because of the coronavirus, she turned a spare room at home into her virtual classroom and started posting video lessons before anyone said she had to. She keeps in touch with her students and their parents, using Google classroom and teaching live on Zoom so her students can interact with her and each other. She even made each student a “Mini Miss Pendrak” that she mailed them, as well as a poem that encourages them to take her with them whatever they do, whether it be building a fort or climbing a tree, and send her a photo.
Marisa Cardillo, Sauquoit Valley High School
Cardillo has been teaching six different classes, including AP English, with Google Classroom and Zoom so that her students’ learning can continue to be interactive and bring classic literature to life. She does all this while homeschooling her two young children and doing all of the grocery shopping and errands for her parents and grandfather to protect them from the virus. She also helped deliver congratulatory “Senior Strong” lawn signs to each 12th-grader’s home to give them something special while they finish their final year in a different way.