2018 Blackboard Award Honoree: Jillian Aquila

Heather Slingerland

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2018 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Jillian Aquila
Grade 2
Girls Prep Lower East Side Elementary
Charter School

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as
a teacher.

One of the most memorable successes I’ve had was with a student who began the year unable to write her last name and by the end of the year had made two years’ worth of growth. It is a challenge to make sure you are giving each student the individual support they all need. However, I find time to spend with students to get to know them better as people and not just as students.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

One special achievement I’m very proud of is that out of 24 students, 23 students
made at least one step of growth on their reading assessment this year. I spent a lot of time analyzing and using targeted teaching to increase their reading levels. I believe instilling a love of reading and learning allows scholars to internalize their reading instruction. When sharing my love of reading and learning, it allows the scholars to see they should be lifelong learners.


Jillian Aquila with publisher of New York Family John Hurley. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

In short, my students. I believe there is nothing more important than educating future generations. Although teaching can be a very difficult profession, it is important not only to teach students the curriculum, but also teach them how
to be successful and kind people in the real world. Watching students become successful after struggling is one of the most rewarding feelings. If I can make a difference in at least one student’s life, I have done my job as a teacher.

What do you love about your school?

I love that it is a free all-girls school. Being an all-girls school, we attempt to focus on STEM by all students receiving science from a science teacher every day. All educators at Girls Prep focus on the whole child, rather than just academics, by instilling four core values in the students. Our four core values—scholarship, merit, sisterhood, and responsibility—teach students not only our expectations but how to become better people.