WEIRTON - A local teacher has been honored for her approach to educating some of the area's youngest pupils.
Liberty Elementary School teacher Susan Mastrantoni has been recognized as the Pre-K Teacher of the Year for RESA VI. She now is being considered for the statewide award.
Mastrantoni learned of the recognition Thursday during a surprise announcement to the Liberty Elementary faculty and staff at the end of the school day. Her family also was on hand as part of the surprise.
Joe Paolo, RESA VI coordinator for Hancock County, announced Thursday that Susan Mastrantoni, a Pre-K teacher at Liberty Elementary, has been selected as the RESA VI Pre-K Teacher of the Year. Mastrantoni now is being considered for a statewide honor. -- Craig Howell
"This is so exciting," she said after learning about the award.
According to Joe Paolo, the Hancock County coordinator for RESA VI, and county Pre-K Director Erica Sauer, explained Mastrantoni was nominated by Liberty Principal Stephanie Brown before being selected as the county nominee and then the RESA award recipient.
Mastrantoni, who has been a Pre-K teacher for approximately 11 years, explained she had to submit a written biography, videos and recommendations as part of the application process.
In particular, she focused on her work to support her class' social and emotional needs, in addition to their education. The method is called Conscious Discipline, she explained, and involves creating more of a family environment in the classroom.
"My job is for every child to feel as if they're needed, as if they're a family," Mastrantoni said.
She explained each child is assigned specific tasks or responsibilities as part of the class. They also have special greetings for each other and find ways to support each other with their work or wish each other well in the event a child is absent from school.
Brown explained the Pre-K program is a recent addition to the school - as a result of the inclusion of a universal pre-k in the county - but has introduced a new dimension to their environment.
"Those little ones; we love them," Brown said. "They make this school exciting."
Superintendent Suzan Smith also was on hand for the announcement, and congratulated Mastrantoni on the recognition.
"When you're talking all the Pre-K teachers in our RESA, this is quite an honor," Smith said.
Smith explained Mastrantoni also will be invited to the Jan. 13 board of education meeting to be recognized.
The State Pre-K Teacher of the Year will be announced in February.
(Howell can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)