Page 19 - Salem Magazine Spring 2015
P. 19

                                      Natalie DiFusco-Funk at the annual Teacher of the Year reception with her husband Brandon and their son Frankie.
Our Schools
Salem salutes all Teachers of the Year
Angela Diemel
G.W. Carver Title I Teacher
Sarah Gerrol
Salem High School Technology Education
Bob Palleria
Andrew Lewis Physical Education
Bronwyn Thomas
South Salem First Grade Teacher
Kristen Wilkes
East Salem Reading Specialist
safe to share ideas and learn,” she says. “I love teaching all subjects, but one of my favorites is writing because it allows me to enter a child’s world and learn more about my students."
“I really love my job more than ever now that I am a parent,” she says. “I feel like I am a better teacher since becoming a parent because I know how parents are feeling when they entrust me with their children.”
 “One of her best gifts as an educator is her ability to establish a positive classroom atmosphere,” says Debbie Carroll, West Salem Elementary Principal. “She truly gets to know her students and when you enter her classroom you immediately feel it is a student centered community where children take part in setting goals for themselves, feel safe to express their ideas and learn to work together.”
She and her husband, Brandon, now make their home in Roanoke County with one-year-old Frankie, and it was Brandon’s unique marriage proposal that prompted her southern migration. Just a month before DiFusco-Funk competed in the 2010 Boston Marathon, running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training, Brandon unexpectedly showed up in Massachusetts at the conclusion of her final 20-mile training run.
 DiFusco-Funk grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island and earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. She finished her graduate requirements with a perfect 4.0 grade point average as Reading Specialist, but is quick to point out that her inspiration to teach came from somewhere other than a lecture hall in Chestnut Hill.
“I didn’t know he was going to be there and it was definitely very special when he surprised me with a proposal,” she says.
Her fifth grade teacher at Eden Park Elementary school, Jan Pilibosian, became her role model and inspiration to work with young people. Ironically, the two recently reconnected through social media.
Besides making her mark in Salem, DiFusco-Funk’s high-energy teaching and outgoing personality also have translated well for the Houghton Mifflin company, which featured her in a series of “Teachers in Training” videos related to integrating technology and building community in the classroom. Her Master’s thesis also is cited on the company’s website as a valuable resource.
 “I just sent her a note thanking her for inspiring me to follow my dreams and my passion,” she says. “I always talk about her on back-to-school night and I can still recite the science lesson she did on antibiotics when I was a fifth grader.”
“As an outsider coming to Salem I wasn’t sure how my peers would accept my methods or how they would think of me because I do things a little differently,” she says. “Receiving this award to represent my fellow teachers is very special and exciting.”
Right now, her biggest passion is her young son, Frankie.
      www.salemva.gov | SPRING 2015
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