Position: Third Grade Teacher
School: Bradford School
School District: Montclair School District
City, State: Montclair, New Jersey
About the Nominee: Denise Macaluso was nominated by her principal, Naomi Kirkman. Ms. Macaluso is an outstanding third grade teacher who inspires her students through her own contagious enthusiasm for learning. She recognizes the strength and potential of each and every student, and she has a knack for bringing out the best in them, no matter the extent of their individual needs or weaknesses. She works tirelessly to challenge students in new ways and be their biggest cheerleader.
Ms. Macaluso provides her students with meaningful, rich hands-on learning experiences that connect learning to real life. She implicitly understands that learning must extend beyond the textbook into areas of students’ lives that are important to them. One project that stands out is an engineering project, where students work in teams to design and build the strongest bridge they can out of popsicle sticks. Then, the class fills a bucket with pennies and connects it to the bridge to see which one can bear the most weight. It is projects like this that get students excited about coming to school!
Ms. Macaluso's leadership skills outside the classroom are to be commended, as well. She is always willing to contribute to her school in many ways outside of her classroom. For example, Ms. Macaluso mentors other teachers and student teachers, leads professional development sessions, serves as the math subject matter leader and formulates the master schedule. In addition, she presents to parents at PTA meetings on both the Language Arts and Math curriculum. She also takes the initiative to seek outside funding for resources and was able to purchase Kindles for her class to increase reading engagement.
Ms. Macaluso goes above and beyond what is required of a teacher. Her compassion for her students is genuine and deep, and her intuition and knowledge about how they learn best enables her to deliver creatively differentiated lessons. On top of all this, she easily connects with parents, earns their trust and sets them at ease when sharing information about their children. This is a teacher who changes kids' lives and makes a positive difference every day at Bradford School. Ms. Kirkman states that she is truly honored to work with such an outstanding professional!