A P.S. 3 teacher’s contest pitch works like a charm


By Jefferson Siegel

Once a year for several years now, ETA Cuisenaire, a creator and publisher of educational materials, has held a contest. Schoolteachers are asked to tell the company why they believe their class should benefit from a $10,000 prize of tactile educational materials. This year the company received 100 entries from all over the country.

West Village schoolteacher Susan Soler of Public School 3’s John Melser Charrette School has taught kindergarten and grade 1 at the Hudson St. elementary school for 10 years. When she read about the competition, she knew she could make the case for her students.

Enlisting her husband and his home-video camera, Soler made a film that brought to life her reasons for wanting the prize. The video started at the front door of the school, passed over the mosaic-tiled 3 on the floor just inside the front door and led viewers up to her classroom on the second floor.

There, in room 205, already a wonderland of wall drawings, bins of books and shelves of interactive games, Soler made her prize-winning pitch.

Soler, who takes her students jogging before classes and also has them do a minute of yoga before class, sat on the floor of room 205 last Wednesday night, unpacking boxes of books, easels, magic wands, alphabet stamps, games and other 21st-century teaching aids. Joined by representatives of ETA Cuisenaire, she was as happy and energetic as any of her students.