July 7, 2020

2019 East Providence Teachers of the Year

Leila McCarthy, RMS - District Teacher of the Year


Teacher of the year announcements have been made by the East Providence School Department. A teacher of the year for each school was selected along with a district wide award. Here is a school by school list and some excerpts of nomination narratives as supplied by Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley:

Teacher of the Year - District Wide - Leila McCarthy, Riverside Middle School

McCarthy is the Social Studies Department Coordinator at Riverside Middle School. "She is a leader among her peers and a beacon in the lives of her students. Leila is a consummate educator," said RMS Principal Robert Perry. "Despite her veteran status she has taken on a leading role in our efforts to bring our students to 21st century learning. She has become a leader at the state level in Project Based Learning (PBL), a classroom approach in which students explore real-world problems and challenges. Her efforts in PBL led her to become one of four educators in Rhode Island chosen to present classroom experiences at the annual Highlander Conference this year. Leila is called upon regularly by teachers throughout the state to share her knowledge. At RMS, Leila has lent her expertise of PBL to help her colleagues create meaningful lessons and projects," added Perry. "This is evident in her decades long work with the 'Lost Boys of South Sudan' and her ongoing efforts to strengthen the bridge between Riverside and Africa. For years, Leila has worked with her friend Panther, a former Lost Boy and now a government official in South Sudan, to bring opportunities to kids in Africa. Leila's students have always been part of the process. Last year and earlier this year, Leila organized a fundraiser that raised $5000 to send textbooks and educational supplies to kids in South Sudan. RMS students were there at every step of the process - from Skyping with Panther in a school-wide assembly to putting packing labels on boxes of books. Leila delivered hope to kids in Africa and brought Project Based Learning to life for her students," said Perry in his nomination of McCarthy.

East Providence High School - Dalia Raposo:
"Mrs. Raposo collaborates with colleagues, students, and families helping to build and create a school culture of respect and success by being one of the most flexible teachers in EPHS and accepts "change" as routine!," writes Principal Shani Wallace. She has been assigned to a number of different departments such as Business, Science and presently Math, collaborating with content teachers while making home connections with those on her caseload.

"Mrs. Raposo demonstrates leadership and innovation both in and outside of the classroom walls that embodies lifelong learning. Mrs. Raposo has been one of the Instructors for the District's Teacher Leadership Academy. Her drive is contagious; it realistic and doable. She pushes herself and others to be the best they can be. She has high expectations for all. Mrs. Raposo is a citizen of the city and a graduate of EPHS. Students understand lifelong learning because she is a physical example of it.

"It is without question, Mrs. Raposo is intelligent, motivated, hard-working, effective, inspiring, and a wonderfully dedicated Townie Teacher with Pride!" adds Principal Wallace.

EP CTC - Patricia Piros:
Mrs. Piros has worked tirelessly to create a high-level, four-year computer science program that challenges students in the field of computer technology. Over the past few years Mrs. Piros has created opportunities for students to showcase their skills in state and national competitions. As a SkillsUSA advisor and coach, Mrs. Piros has guided not only her students, but also all CTC students participating in SkillsUSA competitions. Her United States Air Force, CyberPatriot student competition teams are noted at the state-level and in the New England region as placeholders over the past five years," writes Principal/Director Karen Mellen.

Martin Middle School - Patty Usenia:
Math Department Coordinator. "Here are some things written by the many staff at MMS who nominated her," said MMS Principal Bill Black. "Patty is such an amazing, hard working teacher who will do anything for her students and faculty members.

Patty is the Math Department head who supports her teachers and students. Patty goes above and beyond for the students and staff at Martin Middle School. She is the RICAS coordinator and spends countless hours of her own time planning and coordinating testing rooms, snacks, and other logistics to do with testing.

As a school, MMS has been focused on improving our scores and Patty's leadership has really motivated the staff. She also coordinates iReady school wide testing days and makes sure every staff member and student can do their best. It is inspiring to see a veteran teacher still have the amount of love and passion for the profession and for students as Patty does."

Pre-K at MMS - Maggie Saunders:
Mrs. Saunders has been teaching in the East Providence School District for the past 24 years. Currently, she is a teacher in the State PreK Program at Martin Middle School. She began her career with the district at the Thompson Kindergarten Center as an ELL teacher. In later years, she continued teaching in early childhood classrooms at Oldham and Hennessey before landing in her favorite place of all the Martin PreK. During her tenure in the district she has served on many different committees and has proven to be an amazing person and friend.

According to her PreK colleagues she is "the truest version of a team player who is willing to help anyone with anything. She has worked tirelessly to learn the many components of the PreK program. She loves her students and her city and it shows in everything she does." She works hard inside and outside of her classroom to enhance student learning. She always makes time to meet with her families and it shows through the amazing relationships she has with them. Maggie is always ready to collaborate and work with colleagues, private sector professionals or administration for the betterment of the program. She values all opinions and ideas and is diligently on ensuring all voices are heard and represented," writes Principal Karen Rebello.

A colleague from Hennessey had this to say about Mrs. Saunders, "I have had the pleasure of knowing Maggie both professionally and personally for 22 years. Within those years, I can honestly say that Mrs. Saunders has worked to encourage all her students to be active and engaged learners. She finds ways to build on their skills and encourages students take on the challenges to learn more. She enjoys using her creativity to drive students to try new things. This creativity has also motivated other teachers to step out of their comfort zone to try new things as well. I could always count on Mrs, Saunders to find humor in stressful situations and work collaboratively to find solutions when necessary. Maggie is the first person to step up to volunteer to help with PTA events and/or fundraisers, technology issues, a student/family in need or even a drive to the recycling center to pick up those "essential" materials. Maggie is an amazing teacher, co-worker and friend."

Francis School - Joanne Tortolani:
Joanne Tortolani's constant dedication, compassion, and overall love for her students is evident to all who have the pleasure to work with Joanne. She is always looking for new ideas to engage students, lessons to reach those struggling to grasp the concept and activities to keep students smiling and having fun. Joanne's dedication goes beyond teaching in her classroom. She can be found greeting students every morning, helping out in the cafeteria, setting up incentive plans within the general education classrooms, or even attending a student's baseball game. She is respected by the parents of the students she works with and she communicates with them regularly. Joanne is a true professional who comes to work each day with the intention of doing what is best for the students. We at Francis are better for having her walk among our halls. - Anne-Marie Scott Principal

Hennessey School - Jacqueline Coppa:
Jacqui was described by colleagues as dedicated, collaborative, growth oriented, talented, caring, and knowledgeable. Mrs. Coppa contributes professional expertise and develops positive relationships with colleagues, students and families. She takes on positions of leadership within the school to support the overall school community. Jacqui has been a key member of our Instructional Leadership Team through our recent exit from transformation status which included facilitating Professional Learning Community sessions. She embraces opportunities to partner with the Highlander Institute to expand blended and personalized learning practices in her classroom which has lead to opening her classroom to colleagues and teachers across the state to observe. She was instrumental in bringing Girls on the Run to our school, a program that continues to thrive and was recognized by the organization for its strong implementation and positive student experience! Additionally, Jacqui co-facilitated an after school enrichment yoga and mindfulness program for primary grade students this year.

Jacqueline Coppa represents the essence of the Mission, Vision and Core Values of Hennessey Elementary School. She contributes an unwavering commitment to the children and families we serve and to her team of colleagues.Because of teacher leaders like Jacqui, Hennessey continues to RISE!

Kent Heights School - Michelle Malmstrom:
"Michelle Malmstrom is currently a fourth grade general education teacher who teaches reading and social studies. Mrs. Malmstrom is the RTI coordinator at Kent Heights, she is also a Kent Heights School parent. Previously, at Kent Heights School she was a special needs self-contained teacher," writes Principal Leddy. "Over the years that I have been here at KHS, she never ceases to amaze. She truly teaches from her heart! Mrs. Malmstrom sees each student for their individualism and makes it a priority to meet their academic, social, emotional and behavioral needs. She is selfless, goes the extra mile and is dedicated to learning even the minutest detail of her students and their learning in order for them to be successful. Anytime you enter her classroom, you will always find her engaging her students with enthusiasm, patience, love and knowledge. She never gives up and lives up to the saying, "where there's a will, there's a way" which I personally have watched her implement when working with students with challenging behaviors. I appreciate most that not only does every child begin their day with a clean slate but also every minute. Mrs. Malmstrom's respect for her students and colleagues is always apparent. I will always be in awe of her as a person,
mother, teacher and colleague and can only hope that future teachers could mirror her

She is approachable, kind, non-judgmental and empathetic. She has served on the RTI committee as the chair, as well as dedicated her limited free time to the math club for several years. She has also been a member of the PBIS committee. Her students are genuinely excited to walk into her bright and inviting classroom where learning is fun! She integrates technology and games into her curriculum in a way that makes students engaged and caters to a very diverse group of learners.

Oldham School - Paula Dionisopoulos:
Ms. Dionisopoulos is our Grade 1 teacher who has been an Oldham Elementary School teacher for 2 years and a member of the professional teaching staff of East Providence Public Schools for the past 11 years.

Ms. Dionisopoulos is a dedicated, kind, and very organized teacher. She is a true professional with a strong work ethic who always leads by example. Ms. Dionisopoulos maintains excellent relationships with her students and colleagues, alike.

Orlo Avenue - Stephanie Caverly:
Stephanie is a graduate of the Teacher Leadership Academy and has also presented at the Teacher Led Professional Learning Day. She was a pioneer in exploring personalized learning and flexible seating in her classroom. Stephanie has also created Math Data tracking sheets that have been shared and used by other teachers in the district. She is a true teacher leader.

She has an unbelievable way of connecting with students naturally, and it is evident that everyone in the classroom respects her. With all of the time invested in lesson planning, and establishing routines in the classroom, she also plays a huge role in the school community with being a part of multiple committees as well as maintaining positive relationships with our Orio families.

Silver Spring School - Mary Texeira:
Mary has taught in the East Providence School District since 1988. She has spent all 31 years at Silver Spring School teaching third grade. She has been the Head Teacher for the past three years, serves on School Improvement Team, PBIS Team, Reading and Math Committees, Faculty Advisory Committee, RTI Team, Sunshine Committee, Scheduling Committee, and Parent Engagement Committee. Mary is also an active participant of our school's PTC. She has as much passion for her job today as she did the day she started. Mary accepts this award for all the teachers at Silver Spring School. Teaching is not an individual effort, but a collaborative one, and throughout her career she has received as much wisdom and support from her colleagues as she has given.

Waddington School - Lauren Ferreira:
Lauren is a remarkable educator. She has been teaching in East Providence for 8 years. In that time not only has she taught in grades 3 and 5, with passion and excellence, but she has also taken the lead role in the following areas: writing the ELA Curriculum for grade 5, RTI Coordinator, and PBIS Coordinator. She is also on committees at Waddington such as the Waddington Reading Week Committee and the SEL Committee. She also attended the East Providence School Department Teacher Leadership Academy. Lauren is a Coach for Girls on the Run, the STEAM class Coding teacher, and a facilitator for the 5th grade Robotics Club.

In addition to her contributions outside of the classroom, Lauren plans and carries out engaging lessons for her students. She uses best practices in her teaching. Her classroom has an upbeat vibe where children take part in both individualized instruction and group work. She uses the latest technology and teaching techniques to bring out the best in her students. One of her students was so inspired by Miss Ferreira he made her a superhero cape! As you can see, she is always willing to help out. Finally, Lauren is our go-to tech savvy co-worker. Teachers and students alike seek her out when they have an issue with technology.

Whiteknact School - Tara Mollo:
Ms. Mollo goes above and beyond for her students and for the entire Whiteknact community. I can't think of a committee that Ms. Mollo isn't on. Endless hours are spent creating amazing experiences for her students. Every single student in her classroom has developed a love for learning and school. This love is such a powerful thing to develop in kindergarten. It truly fuels their passion for their future years of learning. Ms. Mollo sets the bar high and leads by example to her colleagues. Peers are inspired by her creativity and passion.

The door to Ms. Mollo's classroom is always open to fellow educators, administrators, and families. Anyone who enters Whiteknact Elementary tends to gravitate to room 8. Typically, they do not want to leave, but when they do, they leave with a smile on their face and a renewed sense of educational passion in their hearts. Ms. Mollo puts the "T" in our PTA and has played a major role in the fundraising efforts for our playground. Whether it's fund.raising, the Coding Club, Girls on the Run, PBIS, or Title I, Ms. Mollo has a seat at the table. She is the epitome of what it means to be an educator. - Laurie Marchand, Principal.


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