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TOTS Teacher Wins Prestigious Award

Catherine O’Sullivan was one of just two early childhood teachers in New York City to receive a prestigious award.

Although she is now a recipient of the Early Childhood Professional Development Institute’s Excellence in Teaching Recognition Award, O’Sullivan believes the real reward was the recognition from her co-workers at These Our Treasures, who nominated her for the award.

“I’m honored that the people I work with every day chose to nominate me,” O’Sullivan said. “Now I just hope I can live up to it.”

The Throggs Neck resident was presented with the trophy she earned as a winner of the Fall 2010 Excellence in Teaching Recognition Award at a ceremony at TOTS on 2778 Bruckner Boulevard on Wednesday, May 11.

She has been teaching at the school for children with development disabilities for the past eight years.

The recipients of the award were selected by the New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, which is run by the City University of New York.

She won the award through a multi-step selection process that began with her nomination by her co-workers and TOTs parents.The nominations were reviewed by a committee of education professionals and parents, who selected a group of finalists.

The panel then interviewed finalists and visited them in their classrooms before selecting the winners.

“I’ve been here for 25 years and she’s one of the finest teachers I’ve worked with,” said TOTS program coordinator Diane Bradford.Executive director Nikki DiNapoli echoed those sentiments. “She’s been an asset to our organization,” DiNapoli said. “her whole personality works wonderfully with children.”

TOTs opened in 1973 as an informal group of Bronx parents with children who had various types of disabilities. Since then, it has developed into a state-licensed non-profit with both a school and in-home outreach programs that serves children from newborn through age five.

Parent Peta-Ann Gayle was referred to the school by her son Luke’s pediatrician and was part of the group that nominated O’Sullivan for the award.

“I think she’s a wonderful teacher,” Gayle said. “This is my only child, and she was his first real teacher. She walked us through everything and made us realize that this is a stepping stone.”

For O’Sullivan, the best part of her job is the close relationship she has developed with people like the Gayles.

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