The words warmed her heart and fueled her passion to continue doing what she does best – teach.
Rosa Fierro, a P.S. 72 kindergarten teacher, received the honor of a lifetime when she learned of her nomination for the 2009 New York State Teacher of the Year Award in February.
“When they told me I was just surprised and honored,” she recalled. “It took my breath away.”
While she’s taught various grades and subjects at P.S. 72 for the past six years, the Throggs Neck resident has a long history in education, beginning with tutoring autistic kids when she was in high school.
“I just love what I do,” she stated about her more than 20 years in the field.
Breaking beyond what she calls the teacher’s traditional role, Fierro routinely integrates deep breathing, relaxation and soft music into her curriculum, believing the combination allows the student to focus more clearly on their studies.
The parents agree.
“Rosa Fierro is an excellent example of the kind of teacher and professional our children need to ensure a brighter future for all,” former P.S. 72 substitute teacher Veronica Morrison said. “She really should train other teachers in the methods she uses.”
Fierro said she also utilizes affirmations to help the students generate their own increase of self worth.
“Our children today need to have their feelings and spirits honored and acknowledged in the way she does,” Morrison added.
As a young widow with five little kids, Suada Cani said it’s especially reassuring for her to consistently hear Fierro’s deep concern for her students.
“When I talk with Rosa she always mentions her children,” Cani explained. “Those kids are lucky to have her and the parents are lucky she cares so much. She gives a lot to us. She gives a lot to her students.”
P.S. 72 parent Margaret Feliz said she too recognized Fierro’s special abilities after she noticed her daughter’s speech difficulties during the first week of school.
“Thanks to her, my daughter is getting the extra help she needs in school,” she commented. “I believe Ms. Fierro is a great candidate for Teacher of the Year!”
Fierro said it’s easy to give to such an amazing group of youth.
“They touch my heart in so many special ways,” she said about this year’s kindergarten class. Plus, she added, “I love sharing information, I don’t need to keep it all to myself.”
Fierro said for as long as she can, she plans to teach. In the coming years she hopes to move into adult education because, “The more adults I teach, the more children I reach.”