There is no doubt that a student’s experience in the classroom is predominantly influenced by their teacher. For third-graders at Fork Lane Elementary School in Hicksville, one teacher is making all the difference.
Christina Marconi makes the hour-long commute from Aquebogue to Hicksville each day to do what she loves most—help students grow.
“[The students] make it worth it every day. I love seeing them grow, and seeing the progress over the past two years has been very rewarding,” said Marconi, who started at Fork Lane two years ago teaching second grade and now teaches third grade.
Third-grader Landon Luttrell had been Marconi’s student in second grade as well. Inspired by the way Marconi treated him in the classroom, he took it upon himself to write an essay nominating his teacher for Applebee’s Above and ‘Bee’yond Teacher award. The contest saw essays from students across Nassau County, but Lutrell’s essay was the one that took the cake.
“I didn’t even know he was doing it,” Marconi said. “The fact that he took the time out of his day to do that is just the nicest gift a teacher can receive.”
Lutrell’s essay described how smart and kind Marconi is. He discussed how his teacher never made him feel bad if he didn’t know an answer and how he appreciated the extra work she would send him home with when she recognized he needed practice in certain things.
On April 30, Applebee’s and Fork Lane presented Marconi with the prize Lutrell’s essay had earned her—a check for $500 to be used on ways to improve the classroom. Lutrell also won an Applebee’s-catered party for his class at the end of the school year.
“There’s so many things I could do with [the money]. I recently took a professional development class about incorporating technology in the classroom and one of the things we learned about was how to incorporate virtual reality goggles into the classroom,” Marconi explained. “The students can go on virtual field trips and I think that would be something the students would appreciate and benefit from.”
Marconi also wishes to buy a new rocking chair for the classroom, as per her students’ request.
After receiving both her bachelor’s degree in general education and special education, and her master’s degree in reading and literacy from SUNY Geneseo, Marconi spent two years teaching in Charlotte, NC, while continuing her search for a job in the competitive landscape on Long Island.
Finally securing her position at Fork Lane, Marconi said the award she recently received is the first recognition she’s received for her work as a teacher.
“It means so much. I come every day to work and I try to do everything I can for [the students]. To see that they recognize that I’m putting forth my best effort and that I’m making a difference in their lives, it means everything, it really does.”
Inspired by her second-grade teacher to become a teacher herself, Marconi said the children’s smiles are what keep her coming back each day.
“There’s no two days of teaching that are the same. The kids are learning, but as they learn I’m learning as well,” she said. “They teach me so much and just to see them grow is wonderful, and with smiles on their faces it makes it even better.”