Tonia Percy, winner of a 2012 Blackboard Award, understands the value of a well-rounded education. The second-grade teacher at P.S. 290 (Manhattan New School) has dedicated her life to instilling a love of learning in her students, and she certainly practices what she preaches. Despite already being certified in general education (grades one to six) and gifted education, Ms. Percy began to notice a pattern among her students. “Over the years, the trend of mainstreaming more children with a variety of special needs and learning disabilities left me feeling a bit unprepared to teach this population,” she said. The Adelphi Manhattan Center’s advanced certificate in special education, with its night and weekend courses, proved to be what Ms. Percy described as a “perfect fit” that allowed her to further her education while continuing to teach full time.
Even though Ms. Percy finished Adelphi’s program in less than a year, she counts her Adelphi professors among her strongest influences. “Adelphi has given me tools to assess, engage and instruct students with a variety of special needs,” she said. She admitted that teaching while attending graduate school was a marathon, but said the experience was “well worth it.”
Ms. Percy believes that “children learn best by doing,” so she takes full advantage of the rich New York City culture to go on field trips and host guest speakers. In fact, many parents visit her class to discuss their areas of expertise, an activity that Ms. Percy said the students love. Seeing her pupils smile is among Ms. Percy’s greatest joys and one of the reasons she loves her profession.
Winning a 2012 Blackboard Award from Manhattan Media was further acknowledgment of Ms. Percy’s talent and dedication. According to Ms. Percy, the award, which honors top educators in New York City, is based on the recommendations of colleagues as well as former and current students and their parents. “[It] meant a lot to be recognized by everyone,” Ms. Percy said.