CUMBERLAND – Describing her as innovative, engaging, and student-centered, Superintendent Robert Mitchell on Thursday named Nicole Franco as Cumberland’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.
“She puts the students first,” Mr. Mitchell said. “That’s what all good teachers do. But she also goes above and beyond in her work to help colleagues, bring new ideas to the school system, and make the teachers around her better too. She represents the qualities we look for in all of our teachers.”
Mrs. Franco thanked Mr. Mitchell, Assistant Superintendent Tony DiManna, and her principal, Cindy Giroux for their support and dedication to student-driven learning.
“I am humbled to be honored for such an award as many of my colleagues are just as deserving for this recognition,” she said. “The parents and supporting staff at Community School are truly the driving force behind the growth of students. My students share this award alongside me as they make my job so worthwhile. As I reflect each day I am honored to witness their growth.”
A graduate of both the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, Mrs. Franco has been teaching at Community School since 2003. She is certified in both Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education.
“Mrs. Franco is fun and engaging teacher,” Community School Principal Cindy Giroux said. “Learning is planned, purposeful and playful. There is no place for passive learning in Mrs. Franco’s classroom. Students are both the learners and the teachers because their voices are continually part of the discussion. All hands are constantly up in order to part of whatever happening on any given day. Mrs. Franco takes the time to know her students as individuals and support what is important to them.”
Mrs. Franco’s nomination letter cited Mrs. Franco’s flexibility and responsiveness to the needs of her students.
“She demonstrates the ability to balance her direct whole group instruction with small group and partner work,” the nomination letter reads. “This allows her to take on the role of a mentor, facilitator and coach during more student-centered work.”
On one occasion, her principal walked into the classroom to find the students working in groups and Mrs. Franco working in the front with a small of group of students. A student approached her to check an answer and Mrs. Franco provided the correct answer. The student returned to the group and provided the answer and then stated that the group had to figure out how to get the same answer.
“It wasn’t enough to have the correct answer,” Mrs. Giroux said. “But they also needed to know the process and understand the concept. These students demonstrated grit and perseverance that is modeled by Mrs. Franco on a daily basis.”
Mr. Mitchell presented Mrs Franco with the award in a surprise ceremony in her classroom. Joining in the celebration were Assistant Superintendent Tony DiManna, Human Resources Director Tina Fogell, Special Education Coordinator Melissa Custer, and Linda Lussier, the school’s secretary.