Teacher at Seaside Heights school receives top honor
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. - November 12, 2013 (WPVI) -- Superstorm Sandy hit last year, Marsha Dionisio was flooded out of her house, as were all her 4th grade students. And Boyd Elementary, where she's been teaching for 29 years, was severely damaged.
"Everything was destroyed in the hurricane so we had no textbooks, we had no supplies. Anything that was left in the classroom was covered in mold," Dionisio said.
"You tell a teacher they have no lesson plans, no computers, no books. You got to go in and basically start from scratch and start teaching kids. She did an amazing job," principal Chris Raichle said.
And because of that, Dionisio is being honored as one of People magazine's Teachers of the Year. She was featured in a recent issue, pictured with her class on the boardwalk, and also appeared on the Katie Couric show.
"People magazine does a lot with real people who inspire. Mrs. D put together a lesson plan out of nothing and kept those students learning," Sandra Westfall of People said.
When Mrs. Dionisio located enough copies of three children's novels, she figured out a way to teach her students language, math, social studies, geography and art based on those books.
"She would always try to figure out new stuff and it would always be fun and a new way of learning," student Aya Abdo said.
"We didn't have any books so she tried to make it fun," student Elijah Olivo said.
The school has been repaired and reopened and kids are back in the classroom.
The past year has been an enormous challenge, but Marsha Dionisio says she's learned some lessons, too.
"I learned I had to be a quick thinker, I had to improvise and also learned to ask other people," Dionisio said.
Dionisio credits her fellow teachers and those who helped Boyd School get back on its feet.
"One year later we can look back at how we survived, how strong we are, how we all held together," Dionisio said.
For her innovation, creativity and kindness Marsha Dionisio is the kind of teacher students remember not just for a year, but a lifetime.
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