• Cynthia Castro Wins A 2013 Blackboard Award For Teachers

    PS 163 Manhattan, Alfred E. Smith School Gifted And Talented Teacher for Grade 2

    By Chrissy Makris

    What are some of the key joys and challenges of being a second grade teacher?

    I have taught many grades throughout my career and have found that I have a special place in my heart for second grade. It is that transition year from the lower to upper grades, when students go from concrete thinking to abstract thinking. It is amazing to see the growth that takes place in my students from the beginning to the end of the year. A challenge I find with being a second grade teacher is trying to meet the individual needs of students in a classroom of diverse learners.

    Tell us about any special projects or initiatives you are most proud of this year. 

    This year, I implemented a new challenging writing unit. I tasked my students with writing a five-paragraph persuasive essay. The unit I designed allowed the students to take class discussions to the next level by putting their ideas in writing. It was gratifying to see the students’ enthusiasm and sense of accomplishment as they shared their writing pieces with their parents at a classroom publishing party.

    Over the course of your career, what do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments to date? 

    One of my greatest career accomplishments has been taking part in the writing of the second grade social studies curriculum at my school. As the curriculum deals with New York City history, it was ideally suited to me because l am a big history buff. So, over the last decade, I have been involved in the ongoing creation of these ever-evolving units. I have designed and implemented interactive lessons that bring history to life, as well as lessons that promote creative explorations of history through art.

    What drives you and keeps you motivated to continue your hard work as a teacher on a daily basis?

    My motivation to continue working in this challenging profession is feeling like I am truly making a difference. It is satisfying to see your students grow academically and also mature emotionally and socially by the end of the school year—and to know that you have played a part in it. It is a proud moment for a teacher to see the students’ growth under her guidance.

    For more information about the Blackboard Awards, visit blackboardawards.com

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