Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Students thrive with teacher's caring ways
Katrina Cosentino wins award because of her dedication, success with St. Joe's special needs students
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Less than a year after joining the staff at St. Joseph's High, Katrina Cosentino has managed to become everybody's favourite teacher.
The staff is impressed with her and so are the students. Vice-principal Sandra Palazzo says any administration would like to have a teacher like Cosentino on board.
The truth is Cosentino did a remarkable job this year by helping dozens of special needs students make the grade and perhaps find their career path. Many who didn't know what to do after Grade 12 now know where they are headed, all thanks to Cosentino.
"She is a competent and diligent teacher who truly made a difference in the life of her students," Palazzo said. "We are pretty impressed."
The 23-year-old teacher was hired fresh from university a year ago to teach the Knowledge & Employability program for students who find it difficult to get through classes.
Her charges included about 80 Grade 11-12 students who needed help completing subjects such as math, English, religion, social studies and CALM.
"She was responsible for having these students successfully complete all of the classes this year in addition to anything else that they may not have been successful in last year. And she did," noted Palazzo.
"Not only did she embrace these students, she also established a positive rapport with them in that they loved coming to her class and ultimately to school."
How did she do it?
"I work with them really hard and I motivate them to keep coming and keep doing well and delivering all of their core subjects," Cosentino said in an interview. "I just try to provide a very friendly, welcoming environment for the students."
Students are allowed to work at their own pace with lots of one-on-one from Cosentino, who also coaches volleyball, basketball and soccer at St. Joe's and has provided the staff with technological assistance.
On Sundays she teaches catechism to small children at St. Edmund's Parish.
In recognition of her multiple achievements, Cosentino was recently awarded the Edwin Parr Teacher Award which recognizes outstanding first year teachers and is presented to six teachers annually by the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA).
"She was chosen for the award because she effectively engages students in learning as she creates an environment that fosters achievement and growth," states a recent ASBA news release.
"She builds rapport first and stays current with popular culture so she can create curricular allusions her students can understand.
"Her strong, meticulous planning keeps students on track, which minimizes misbehaviours in the classroom. Ms. Cosentino leads by example with her attentive, positive and calm mannerisms setting the tone for a positive learning environment."
Palazzo said some students intentionally wanted to fail so they could go into Cosentino's lab and be in her class.
"I think it's her sincerity and just her very caring nature that gets the kids; they know she believes in them and that she cares about them and of course they have someone in their lives who has taken an interest in them," Palazzo said.
"That's the reason many of them have decided they want to come to school."
Cosentino is happy with the recognition and says it will keep her motivated.
"Nothing has really changed in the school, except that I have a job next year, which is amazing," she smiled. "I had a one-year contract in September and because I won this award I received a continuous contract."
Students seem impressed.
"She is really good actually," said Grade 11 student Barbara Aguilar. "She is like the best teacher I ever had. She actually helps me with my work and shows me how to do it.
"She kept me in school. She practically changed my life. I was skipping a lot and so she kept pushing me to be here and she helped me a lot."
Stacy Domatas, Grade 12, is impressed by Cosentino's enthusiasm for teaching and her penchant for technology.
"She brings new creative ideas. Now teenagers use computers mostly and she incorporates the computer instead of always trying to work on a piece of paper," she said. "She makes games to help us learn."
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.