The calling to teach at a Catholic elementary school is a unique. It involves the intersection of the passion, mission, profession and vocation of an individual who has trained to teach, and who is committed to their faith. Our certified teaching professionals, many with advanced degrees, are almost 95% lay people today with the remaining 5% belonging to a religious order. Taking a job at a Catholic elementary school means that you understand that children both learn what they are taught, but they also learn by the examples the adults in their lives set for them. For this reason, teachers at a Catholic school have to live to a higher standard knowing that they are role models and are responsible for modeling the behavior we expect from our students.
Learn about some of our outstanding teachers below:
Kathleen Cotilletta, St. Peter of Alcantara School IN PORT WASHINGTON
Kathleen Cotilletta is the senior Pre-Kindergarten teacher within St. Peter of Alcantara School’s prominent Little Learners Program. She received a B.S. in Elementary Education from St. John’s University and an M.S. in Childhood Education from Molloy College. This year marks Kathleen’s twenty-fifth year in Catholic education, for which she will be honored by the Rockville Centre Diocese. In addition, during spring 2014, along with a few of her teacher colleagues, Kathleen was honored by St. Peter’s at its annual fundraising gala for her devoted years of teaching.
Kathleen feels blessed that she found a career that contains the three things in life that matter most to her: God, family, and education. During the past twenty-five years of teaching, she has also been a sports team coach and involved in a myriad of other extra-curricular activities. Kathleen sincerely believes that her life has been profoundly enriched because of her beloved connections among the St. Peter’s family.
Sandra Sperrazza, St. Peter of Alcantara School IN PORT WASHINGTON
Sandra Sperrazza is the third grade teacher at St. Peter of Alcantara School, where she has been a member of the faculty during the past nineteen years. Sandra received a B.S. in Elementary Education from SUNY – Old Westbury and an M.S. in Elementary Education from Adelphi University. During spring 2014, along with a few of her teacher colleagues, Sandra was honored by St. Peter’s at its annual fundraising gala for her devoted years of teaching.
Sandra has spent most of her years at St. Peter’s teaching the third grade, which she calls her “favorite place to be”. Sandra attended St. Peter’s with her two sisters and brother and she was inspired by her own third grade teacher who created a wonderful learning environment and taught her to say, “Yes!”. Sandra’s deserving students are indeed nurtured by her very effective and caring instructional means that has brought them many academic successes.
Darren St. George, Our Lady of Lourdes in West Islip
Darren St. George from Our Lady of Lourdes in West Islip was ‘born in the proverbial trunk’. At just five weeks old, he was traveling around the States performing and learning the ways of theatre, entertainment and film. Darren works professionally as a producer and stage manager for St. George Productions and has collaborated with No Jacket Required, traveling the globe from NYC to Brussels, Belgium.
A graduate of Fordham University with a dual major in Communications & Media Studies and Psychology, Darren created both the immersive Theatrical Arts Program and the morning news show, ‘DO NOW’ at Our Lady of Lourdes. Students of the Theatrical Arts Program enjoy hands-on experience while learning about film, television, theatre and radio classics.
Students that are part of the news show arrive at school early every morning to write, direct, film, edit and star in “Our Lady of Lourdes’ Official 8:15 Update.” Students have also produced over 300 original programs on YouTube from such diverse topics as interviewing Assemblyman Phil Ramos, Internet safety as a student, sporting commentary and, of course, playing hide-and-seek with Santa.
Darren believes in the adage, “reality is for those who lack imagination” and approaches teaching with the same understanding. Teaching shouldn’t prepare students for the “real world” but rather enable them to create the world of their dreams.
Cristen Faso, St. Christopher School in Baldwin
Mrs. Cristen Faso, a second grade teacher at St. Christopher School in Baldwin, is using her dual certifications in Elementary Education and Special Education to help develop and deliver a comprehensive program for Academic Intervention Services (AIS). She works very closely with homeroom teachers to plan for and provide instruction for those students who need extra reinforcement. She meets with teachers and parents on a regular basis and very knowledgeable on Response to Intervention (RtI), a method of academic intervention used to provide early, systematic assistance to children who are having difficulty learning. She has also given workshops to our staff on creating a behavior management plan for students.
No finer acknowledgement of Mrs. Faso’s contribution to St. Christopher’s could be made than this, in the words of the parent’s: “she is a wonderful teacher who provides her students with a nurturing environment, which fosters learning.” “She engages her students through thought provoking activities. She has inspired my son’s desire to learn.” My son’s experience this year “has been filled with warmth, guidance and nurturing.”
Christine Frazier, Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville
Christine Frazier teaches seventh and eighth grade English at Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville. Although Christine is a native New Yorker, she has traveled the world during her time in the US Navy. Having earned her teaching credentials and Master's Degree in English at San Diego State University and teaching high school English in San Diego for seven years Christine is now back in her favorite place, New York.
“Of all the places I have visited, my favorite is the city I was born in. I have come full circle in my life and I wouldn't have it any other way!” said Christine. “Teaching is my passion and I have always wanted to give back for the Catholic education I received.”
Very Reverend Dom Daniel Nash, All Saints Regional Catholic School in Glen Cove
Fifth through eighth graders at All Saints Regional Catholic School in Glen Cove are met with “Salvete, discipuli” (“Greetings, students”) from the Very Reverend Dom Daniel Nash as they enter Latin class. “Through the study of Latin, the students gain deeper insights into the vocabulary and grammar of English as well as broaden their horizons and open their hearts to the joy of language. “ said Father Nash.
For Fr. Daniel, who is also the Chaplin at All Saints Regional School, teaching Latin is a among the most rewarding time he spends. “This magnificent language is one of the foundational elements of our Catholic and Western culture, and it is my hope that our students will come not only to experience the joys of this language but also to benefit from the training in logic and grammar which the study of it offers.” Says Fr. Daniel. “It is an honor to be part of the education and faith formation of the students.”
Keith Fischer, St. William the Abbot School in Seaford
Born and raised in upstate New York, Keith Fischer’s “small-town” educational experiences have influenced his methodical approach to teaching at St. William the Abbot School in Seaford. From an early age, Keith remembers listening to stories from his grandfather, a World War II veteran that ignited a passion for history that led him to pursue a career in teaching social studies. Having received his B.A. from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, and his Masters in Special Education from Molloy College, Keith is an enthusiastic educator with a passionate commitment to student development. Keith’s career in Catholic education began five years ago. Through cross-curricular lesson plans centered on cooperative and exploratory learning, he brings social studies alive both inside and outside of the classroom. With the integration of technology, lessons include the process of engineering and designing medieval catapults, as well as a student-led Civil War exhibit. The capstone of the year is an archaeological dig, where students sift, measure and analyze actual artifacts. Keith Fischer’s transformative approach to education, rooted in Catholic tradition, allows students to understand themselves, each other, and the world around them.
Lauren Gibbons, St. William the Abbot
Before entering the classroom as a teacher, Lauren Gibbons, St. William the Abbot’s 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts teacher, attended Catholic schools her whole life. She began at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, where the foundation for her strong Catholic faith was established. She continued at St. John the Baptist DHS, where she was named valedictorian of the class of 2006 and she concluded at Providence College, earning her degree in both English and Secondary Education. Lauren has since earned a Master’s degree in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Lauren brings a passion and fire for her subject matter to the classroom. She inspires students to devour both classic and contemporary literature and pushes her students to write in creative and thought-provoking ways, using the writing of famous authors as models. This year, students have explored narrative, informational, and persuasive techniques by writing autobiographies, speeches, brochures, websites, commercials, blog posts, and research papers. In May, Ms. Gibbons had an article published in Voices from the Middle, a publication of the National Council of the Teachers of English. Entitled, “Writing Needs a Place to Play: Leaving Room for Rehearsing through Revision Centers,” Ms. Gibbons cited the work of SWS students to expound on her strategy for teaching narrative writing in order to meet the demands of the Common Core Standards. To help spread her passion for literature and writing, Ms. Gibbons has also moderated a professional book club for St. William’s teachers for the past two years. In this book club, teachers read and discuss current literature discussing the demands of 21st century learning.
Anthony Buzzi, St. William the Abbot in Seaford
Living in Rockville Centre with his wife of thirty years and three sons, Anthony Buzzi just completed his twenty-fifth year of teaching; twelve in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and thirteen in the Diocese of Brooklyn. For the past ten years, Mr. Buzzi has served the St. William the Abbot school community in Seaford as the junior high Spanish instructor. Using the latest state of the art technology at Saint William the Abbot, woven with traditional lessons and his Catholic school experience, Anthony Buzzi inspires excellence in his students.
Mr. Buzzi uses an interactive textbook series which synchs seamlessly with the Smartboard. From a menagerie of media ranging from PowerPoint to Prezies, Publisher to old fashioned presentation boards to iPads, he is able to expose students to the language, culture, and traditions of native Spanish speakers from around the world. Incorporating grammar and conversation is the cornerstone of his teaching. Many of his students go on to advanced Spanish in high school.
Joseph Basar, Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton
Joseph Basar is a full-time teacher of Music at Our Lady of the Hamptons Regional Catholic School in Southampton. Educated at Stony Brook University, Five Towns College and Mannes College of Music, Joe brings his skills as a teacher and musician to the K-8 classroom every day.
Joe is a professional guitarist, both in the classical and rock veins. He teaches general music as well as student guitar, recorder, rock band and Joyful Noise, the primary chorus. Outside the classroom, Joe plays in a professional band., serves as music minister in his home parish and supervises the school technical squad for the school musicals.
Each year, Joe presents a two hour assembly program, much like the old Leonard Bernstein programs, developing one specific theme, drawing on all of the school’s performing groups to present concepts. Such programs have include the Three B’s, American Jazz, Rock and Roll, film scores, Mozartiana!
Joe is an excellent teacher and a special gift to Fine Arts.