SEE JANE RUN 
SEE SUE RETIRE

SUE FEOLA, CLASS OF 1975
PHENOMENAL TEACHER


 

There once lived a clever

phenomenal teacher-to-be,

who at first, didn't quite see the 

spiritual crumbs leading to her life's recipe, 

or the young minds 

she would inspire and feed.

Who thought it would be great to live life 

to its fullest, step on a few cracks,

leap without looking ahead, take a dare

unafraid, while embracing all that she could be.

She rode life's twists and turns

with laughter and zest,

keeping her spirit radiating with light despite the test.

Knowing that overcoming challenges

and learning from them is the only way 

a phenomenal teacher-to be

can truly be victorious and wonderfully free.

She studied hard and reached honors at Frankford High.

Joined the color guard and marched the football field

with determination and a confident stride.  

Knowing in her heart that nothing worth accomplishing

comes as a free ride and can throw you off your path 

if you give into debilitating pride.

Lasalle college catapulted her into her next destination.

That was her wish.

Where special education training stirred up bold opinions, 

seasoned with factual truths, sprinkling her witty imagination

into her own special teaching dish. 

She shared her educational

fare with students from all-walks-of-life for 43 years,

from kindergarten to sixth grade,

carrying their own personal challenges

even an adult would find difficult to bear.

Now, as she approaches the final classroom

charcuterie, overjoyed with providing eclectic flavors,

spices and staple ingredients, improving students' academic 

learning, social, behavior and communication skills

into well-earned achievements.

So, each child is equipped to live and work as successful adults, 

never forgetting the moment this teacher-to-be

became their phenomenal teacher who believed.

 

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Having fun dancing
at our 45th Reunion at Somerton Springs with former 1975 classmate, Leonard.

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43 years teaching? You're a rock star! 
We're so proud of you.  What's the New Milennium like? 

How has teaching changed over 43 years?

SUE FEOLA

Children will always be children...they're not the problem.  More recently, the children I’m working with come from home environments that are not as supportive as they were in the past.  We can teach children what they need to know, but if it's not supported or reinforced in the home...it's more difficult for them to grow and move to the next step.  That's our biggest challenge.  We can’t change the other factors that impact the children.

Can you name one memorable moment that touched your heart?

I had children with breakthroughs, where it seemed like they weren’t going to do better.  This has happened so many times, and gave me a great feeling.

But, if I had to pick one moment, it was back in 2000 when I was teaching at H.R. Edmonds.   We put on a millennium show, presenting music through the decades.   So many of our staff and students performed and were involved in the show.  It was wonderful.  

How has COVID impacted your teaching?

COVID made it very challenging to do real teaching--hands-on in-person and interactive teaching.  Teaching online was detached and I didn't think we were able to reach all of the children.  COVID made it very difficult and challenging.

What will you miss?

I’m going to miss interacting with the children on a regular basis. Listening to them, watching them change; it’s been really entertaining.  You see a lot of growth, changing, maturing, and I’ll miss seeing that on a regular basis.

What do you think about the ABC television sitcom, Abbott Elementary?

It’s amusing.  I’m not sure if it’s realistic.  I think a lot of things are exaggerated.  The behavior of the principal definitely is.  That’s what bothers me.  She wouldn’t really keep her job.   However, the problems the children experience and come into the school with are real.   

 

Here's an example:

I have a kindergarten child, who in his home has a biological mother and father and the mother’s boyfriend lives in the house with them.  All three came to a teacher meeting.    So nothing surprises me.  There are all kinds of lifestyles.

I have another child I've known for five years.  His mother came to a meeting in kindergarten.   She has three children.  She said, "when I had the first child I was clean.  I started using again and had two more children and  maybe that’s why they have the problems of no impulse control, no attention span and in trouble all the time." 

 

Anything that seems bizarre is probably true.  It’s nice that they can make it funny.  But it’s pretty sad.  That’s the reality.

What is your advice to new teachers?

If they want to teach in an urban setting, the most important factor in their success is to have a strong self-image and character.   You can love children, you can be smart and have a desire to teach, but if you don’t have a strong self-image--you won’t be successful with the situations you’re put into in an urban setting.   The kids are very dynamic.  They’re not cookie cutter.

 

Every child comes in with a different set of challenges.  There is no other field where you have so many things impacting what you do.   Every child has something different.   And not every child come in so that you’re ready to teach them. 

 

The children all have their own unique, characteristics.  No way, you can predict exactly how everything’s going to go every day. 

 

It makes a difference if you have parental support.  Parents have to be there for their kids.  And they need to pay attention to what their children are doing. 

Did you ever want to be a principal?

I received my educational administrative certificate in 2003 and my supervisory certificate for special education in 2006.

I was a principal for one year from 2012-2013 when Edmonds transitioned from a public elementary school into an arts and sciences charter school with the same student population, separate from the School District of Philadelphia.  Prior to that, I taught at Edmonds Elementary for 19 years.  A charter company had to take the school with the same children, but was allowed to do the curriculum their way.  I was recommended to the company, and I had the credentials.

 

I started in July of 2012, when they began transforming Edmunds to operate as an arts and sciences school.   They renamed it the Philadelphia Charter School for Arts and Sciences at H.R. Edmonds. 

 

The students took ballet, violin, a science labor class, visual arts, sang(vocal) and learned French from kindergarten to 8th grade.   Every child experienced these classes.   They even gutted the library and turned it into a ballet studio.     

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What's on your retirement horizon?

I have a bucket list of places I want to visit.

1.  Panama Canal

2. Islands of Portugal, including the Madeira Islands. (Where they make Madeira wine.  I'm a wine enthusiast.)

3.  Germany - to see the Fairy Tale Castle that's replicated at      Disneyland and Disney World

I don’t want to take risks anymore, because I’m clumsy.   However, I may want to join a theater group.

"I often ask myself, what would Jesus do?  I believe that if I'm aware of this...I'll keep trying to be the best person."