EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – An Eastchester educator has been celebrated for her accomplishments both in and out of the classroom, as Toni Gamils was named “Teacher of the Year” by the state Elementary Classroom Teachers Association.
Gamils, who serves as the fourth grade math representative at Greenvale Elementary, has enjoyed a distinguished career that has seen her help the district transition toward the new Common Core Learning Standards.
She also founded the annual Greenvale Math Night and opened the Greenvale Store in conjunction with the Eastchester School Foundation.
With the help of Greenvale Principal Theresa Sullivan - who nominated her for the award - Gamils, who calls Mount Vernon home, has spearheaded several educational initiatives, including March Math Madness, an event designed to help parents enjoy learning with their children in a relaxed environment at the school.
Believing that Eastchester students would also benefit from hearing themselves read their papers aloud to spot grammatical errors, Gamils filed for, and was awarded a grant to purchase voice recorders.
“When I realize there is a specific need within the school community, I immediately think of how I can address it,” she said. “This year, 580 people attended March Math Madness. Although the purpose of the evening was mathematics, the biggest accomplishment was seeing families interact and enjoying themselves in school.”
In her nomination letter, Sullivan noted that Gamils always goes the extra mile for her students.
“Toni Gamils is more than a fourth grade teacher, she is a very active member of our school district and community,” she said. “(She) is a dedicated professional who goes above and beyond.”
The longtime teacher noted that the Common Core is a demanding curriculum for students at that age. Gamils added that it’s important to keep things fresh in the classroom to keep the students focused and on point.
“Fourth grade is an extremely challenging year for children and teachers. It takes every ounce of patience, determination and creativity to inspire these 9 and 10-year-olds to persevere through the daily curriculum,” she said.
“The demanding pace (of the Common Core) needs to be interactive and include exciting activities if students are to gain a love of learning. When children want to come to school every morning, I believe that I have achieved that balance.”
Next year, Gamils will be responsible for mentoring and tutoring a junior from the Mount Vernon High School through the Mount Vernon Star Scholars program, which follows a student in their final two years of high school to help them prepare for college.
“I strive to fill the needs of my students and community. Whether it’s a social or academic, when I recognize a deficiency, I hope to find a creative solution,” she said. “I hope this award motivates others to go beyond their own classroom.”