Educator of the Month

  • Educator of the Month

    Denise Michael

    Ms. Denise Michael, Sunrise Drive’s reading teacher, was recently honored as a 2012-2013 Dowling College/News 12 Long Island Educator of the Month.

    Nominated by Sunrise Drive Principal Rose Castello, Ms. Michael has distinguished herself throughout her 23 years of dedicated service in Sayville Schools. While she began her career as a Third-grade teacher, Ms. Michael completed the Literacy Education program at Dowling College in 1998 and received certification as a reading specialist. She has worked diligently in this position ever since.

    Sunrise Drive Principal Rose Castello summarized Ms. Michael qualities as a professional educator. “She has been an asset to student growth, the professional development of teachers, and provided parents with information that helped them become more effective partners in student learning.”

    Ms. Michael is an early interventionist for grades Kindergarten through Second. Whether she is  “pulling out” students for small group instruction or “pushing in” to classrooms, where she works side-by-side with teachers in a co-teaching environment, Ms. Michael shares her love for reading.

    “Denise is continually refining her craft,” Principal Castello added, “and as a reflective practitioner she is always making adjustments to how she helps students unlock the path to reading.” Ms. Michael has constantly increased her teaching repertoire by applying her knowledge and expert strategies, which makes her an exceptional reading teacher and her students better readers.

    Although a busy mother herself, Ms. Michael makes herself available at parent meetings for all the students she sees, which is no small feat. Recognizing the importance of continued learning in the home, she is a key presenter at the annual kindergarten parent meeting and demonstrates practical ways to support student reading at home. “For the past few years,” Sunrise Drive Principal continued, “she has presented at our annual back-to-school nights on Response to Intervention, the Common Core Standards, and how parents can help their children become better readers to attain even greater academic success.”

    In addition, Ms. Michael has been instrumental in the professional development of staff. She provides building workshops on running records as well as support to her colleagues as they begin their journey in this area.  She has educated staff about reading work stations and has assisted teachers in developing meaningful, differentiated work for students, even while they meet with small reading groups in a workshop format. 

    However, Ms. Michael was also recommended to Educator of the Month for being a leader among her peers. Two years ago, she volunteered as a member of Sayville School District’s RTI (Response to Intervention) team. “Her reading expertise has been an asset to the team as they structured and successfully implemented a plan that identifies students earlier in their educational careers and provides them with interventions that assist children in learning to read,” Principal Castello stated. “She continues to be a leader in this important area and is always seeking ways to support classroom teachers. She has also volunteered to be a member of our data team, IST team, SBT, and is always presenting me with new ideas to support student learning and teacher growth. She is an asset to our entire community…[and] an asset to our profession!”

    Already an acclaimed educator, Ms. Michael has been recognized by NYSEC as their 2001 Educator of Excellence, has presented at LIAC and NYSEC, and has also published an article on portfolios and their use in third grade. Now she can add 2012-2013 Dowling College/News12 Long Island Educator of the Month to her accolades.

    To present the award, Dr. Clyde I. Payne, Dean of Students at Dowling College and former Dean of the School of Education, came to Sunrise Drive and spoke to the Second-grade students in Ms. Christine Engelberts class during one of Ms. Michael’s push in sessions.

    Dr. Payne interacted with the students, explaining the significance of the presentation. After enumerating Ms. Michael’s accomplishments, Dr. Payne and the students agreed with Principal Castello’s remark, “Ms. Michael needs roller skates” to get everything done.

    Videos and photos of Ms. Michael—not on roller skates—and her students were taken during Dr. Payne’s visit. The edited film will be broadcast, with voiceover, and aired on News 12 which will highlight Ms. Michael’s accomplishments, her students, and Sunrise Drive.

    Presented in partnership with News 12 Long Island, the Educator of the Month program has been highly praised for the focus it places on the best of the many outstanding Long Island teachers and educators. Ms. Michael's accomplishments place her in a most distinguished group of excellent educators, one of twelve who have received this year’s award.

    Congratulations go to Ms. Denise Michael, Reading Teacher for Sunrise Drive Elementary School for being selected as a 2012-2013 Dowling College/News12 Long Island Educator of the Month.