Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The roar of silence, the absence of a single word, this is what earned Jennifer Fusco the honor of being named Dorchester District Two Teacher of the Year.
All her life Fusco has known silence and how to communicate without speaking. Her twin sister is deaf.
In the classroom her non-verbal communication is much louder than anything she says.
Her displeasure with behavior might be communicated with a slight lifting of an eyebrow, a tilt of her head, a toss of her hair. Her approval and praise of a student might be through a wink or a barely noticeable nod. But her students understand perfectly.
According to her principal, René Harris, for her sister, Fusco has been the “gateway to a world beyond their home. Fusco knows about teaching, she has done so all her life.”
“She talks with her hands. Her hands are as important to her instruction as a surgeon’s to his profession.”
Sometimes she speaks to her students in sign language. She always speaks to them from her heart, wrote Harris in her nomination of Fusco as Teacher of the Year.
Fusco teaches Gifted and Talented students as well as English and Language Arts at Beech Hill Elementary School where she has taught for five years.
A product of the district, Fusco graduated from Fort Dorchester High School then went to the College of Charleston where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.
She, her students and her husband are active in the community and beyond.
Fusco’s philosophy is that when a child knows they are valued, it motivates them to succeed. Her students control their own learning taking responsibility for asking questions, push each other’s thinking and are becoming critical thinkers by taking an active role in their lives through problem solving which empowers them.
Fusco’s classroom, writes Harris, is “an extraordinary place where the hands, expressions and heart of an astonishing teacher change lives without uttering a single word.”