Cav. Joseph Coccia, Jr. and Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr., have established an annual prize to recognize an outstanding teacher of Italian at the K–12 level: the Coccia-Inserra Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Teaching of Italian (K–12). A ‘blue ribbon’ panel of experts selected Rina Miraglia, a middle-school Italian teacher at Ho-Ho-Kus Public School, as the first award recipient. She received $1,000 for her school, to be used to advance its Italian language and culture curriculum and programming. The award was presented on October 15, 2010, at a ceremony during the third annual Teaching Italian Symposium/Workshop, which focused on “Technology: Getting with the Program.”
“The Coccia-Inserra Award is a unique and welcome acknowledgment of the contributions of Italian teachers, the ‘unsung heroes’ who are operating in an increasingly challenging and difficult context,” says Mary Ann Re, Ph.D., director of the Joseph and Elda Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America. “Teachers at the K-12 level are critical to and essential for the development and encouragement of the ‘feeder pool’ of potential students of Italian at the college and university levels.”
Ms. Miraglia was a presenter at the Teaching Italian symposium and received consistently excellent feedback from the participants, who were thrilled that she won the Coccia-Inserra Award. “An unbelievable experience,” said one high school teacher; and another wrote “Rina è bravissima. Adesso sono inspirata a fare le cose meravigliose che fa lei!” Another wrote that “Rina’s workshop was EXCELLENT!!!”
The Coccia-Inserra Award panel included experts from around the Metropolitan area: Dr. Anthony Julian Tamburri, Professor and Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at Queens College, CUNY; The Consul of Italy in Newark, Andrea Barbaria; Dr. Andrea Baldi, Chair of the Department of Italian at Rutgers University/New Brunswick; Dr. Roberto Dolci, Associate Professor of Linguistics, Università per Stranieri di Perugia Tecnologie; and Dr. Marisa Trubiano, Professor of Italian at Montclair State University. Ho-Ho-Kus Public School principal Alexis Eckert also attended the ceremony.
The second annual Coccia-Inserra Award will be presented on October 21st, 2011, at Teaching Italian IV. The 2011 award process is open to all teachers of Italian at the K-12 level who are members of any recognized professional association of Italian language teachers.
The Teaching Italian symposia and workshops are the signature professional development collaboration between the Coccia Institute and MSU’s Department of Spanish and Italian. The program was sponsored in part by Ferrero U.S.A., Inc.
“‘Technology: Getting with the Program’ provides wonderful professional development opportunities to an array of teachers of Italian,” says Dr. Tamburri. “What is truly unique is its far-reaching vision in inviting both experts as well as participants from beyond the tri-state area. It is both this broad vision and top-notch expertise that make ‘Technology: Getting with the Program’ the model for future development workshops in other parts of the U.S.A. Bravi!”
Elementary, high school, and college instructors participating in this annual symposium are engaged in both methodological discussions and hands-on design to create pedagogically sound instructional materials using a myriad of technological tools to enhance language learning, including creating their own series of materials for immediate classroom use.
“’Technology: Getting with the Program’ was an exceptional event, surpassing all expectations,” remarked Dr. Enza Antenos-Conforti, MSU Professor of Italian, Teacher Education Coordinator and Chair of the symposium’s organizing committee. “The continued collaboration and support of the Institute and the Department, the enthusiastic participation of teachers of Italian in the tri-state area, the unparalleled expertise of speakers and workshop hosts, and the dedication of the organizing committee have all contributed significantly to the success of this series. These programs have given Montclair State University a visible role in the area of professional development of teachers of Italian.”
Specialists in Instructional Technology in Foreign Language Teaching presenting at the symposium included: Julia Cozzarelli, Ithaca College; Chiara Dal Martello, Arizona State University; Michael Heller, Montclair State University; Rina Miraglia, Ho-Ho-Kus Public School; and James Pfrehm, Ithaca College.
“The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Montclair State University is pleased that the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America has partnered with Italian language professionals to provide instructional development opportunities for high school and college teachers of Italian,” adds Dean Marietta Morrissey. “The excellent annual workshops have given instructors from throughout the state the opportunity to share innovative technological and other methods of enhancing the teaching of Italian language and culture. To see teachers so engaged is just humbling.”
Victoria Buchner, Student-Volunteer and President of the Amici della Cultura Italiana Club at MSU, said, “It is always a wonderful opportunity for the Amici members to be invited for behind-the-scenes work as well as full participation in the symposium.”