Silver Apple Award: Brent LoPresto

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Each year, eight teachers are honored for their excellence in education with 3TV Silver Apple Award for Excellence in Education and are given $500 for use in their classroom. Brent LoPresto specializes in the Read 180 program for students that are struggling in reading at Peoria Elementary School. Priscilla, 14, nominated Mr. LoPresto because "he pays attention to all his students." In her nomination letter she continues to say, "if it wasn't for all his help I wouldn't be able to graduate 8th grade."

Mr. LoPresto's hard work and determination inspires his students to overcome obstacles. Mr. LoPresto shares a passion for teaching and continues to inspire his students everyday. We asked him to share some of his experiences with us.

In his own words, LoPresto describes what this award means to him and why teaching is so important.

I would like to express my gratitude towards being honored with the Silver Apple Award!    Receiving such an award from not only one of my students but from your sponsor “Best Dental Care” & News Channel 3 KTVK Broadcasting Corporation is truly a blessed feeling.  The “Silver Apple Awards” represents “WHY I DO WHAT I DO.”  This is one of the greatest awards to receive especially when it spotlights how AWESOME our students and staff are here at Peoria Elementary.  Thank you again for presenting me with such and honor. 

I currently reside in the City of Peoria.  I am a graduate of Peoria High School and attended Peoria Schools from kindergarten through high school graduation.   After graduating in 1989, I worked for the school district’s maintenance at one of our district high schools.  A few years later I went to work for the local company, Hensley & Co.  I spent the next 10 years working for one of the best companies in Arizona.  In 2006, my family and I decided to move to Oklahoma where we lived until 2011.  While in Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to go back to school to pursue a degree in education.

I would have to say if it was not for the support and encouragement from my wife and family I may have not gone into teaching. My wife, Brenda has been my rock of inspiration.   She encouraged me to continuing my education and to not be just a teacher but someone who can make a difference. My wife is not the only one that has inspired to “make a difference”. There have also been many teachers throughout my life that have inspired me. 

A couple of the teachers that inspired me to go into teaching were my 7th grade teacher, Dr. Denton Santrarelli which is currently the Peoria Unified School District Superintendent and Dr. John Mulcahy which is the Professional Development Administrator for West-Mec.   These two individuals are just a few of the incredible educators that have inspired me to not just teach but to make a difference. Over the years, I have kept in contact with many of my past teachers or have the opportunity to now work with them.  These educators model and represent educators that inspire many individuals over the years.  I am now in my fifth year and just finished my Master’s degree in Education Administration.  It has been an incredible journey to get to this point in my life.  The reason I say this is that I have overcome many personal obstacles and in the end I have to say I get to do something that I truly love to do every day! 

One of my favorite teaching moments has to be with the student that nominated me for the Silver Apple.  Priscilla has been that student that at the end of the day makes you smile.  I have had Priscilla in my classes for the past three years and when I first met her I could not hear or understand her.  Her attitude is always, “I will continue to do my very best no matter what it takes.”  Two years ago, I can remember Priscilla coming into my room after having a couple of months off for summer break.  I explained to the class that we would be conducting our Pre-Lexile assessment to determine their current reading level after summer break.  Before summer, I asked her to read every day so that she could at least maintain her Spring Lexile.  She sat down at the computer like she always did and continued to try her best. What I have not said is when we left for summer break in 6th grade she was a Beginning Reader.  I monitored her progress on the assessment that she was taking but thought to myself I hope that she has not regressed over the summer.  Again Priscilla was giving her normal 110% towards improving her score.   At the end of the assessment, she raised her hand and gave that smile.  As I went to see how she did. I could see that she was not at that Beginning Reader level but over the summer she had improved her reading level to over 400 Lexile!  I looked at her and said “let me guess you read over the summer.” She nodded her head and then asked would you like me to graph my new Lexile? 

At that point, I knew that we were making a difference with our students and their outlook on life.  This is just one of the many moments that happen every day.  I now have students that come back and thank me for doing what I do and holding them accountable.  This is probably one of my favorite teaching moments.

When I realized that I had won the Silver Apple Award, I would say that I was speechless.  It has taken me a few days to realize what an honor it is to receive this award. It is reassuring that we are changing lives and preparing students to face the many challenges of tomorrow. 

After I was presented with the award, I have had many students offer suggestions of what we can do in the classroom with the money.  One priority item is going to be buying some new headphones for the computer program that we utilize in class.  We will be also be buying some other book sets that are of high interest for students to keep progressing.  If we have anything left we will buy classroom consumables. 

When it comes to best practices in the classroom, it all starts with culture.  The teacher needs to build a culture that students want to be in school and set high expectations for our students to reach for. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Seuss - “Kid, you'll move mountains.” ? Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!  When the students build that connection and see that they can do anything that they put their mind to then this is when you see students soar and achieve their goals!

For the new teachers that are coming into the field of education, I would have to say you will not make a fortune but you will be rich knowing that you can make difference in so many individuals’ lives.  It will be the job that will be the hardest but the most rewarding when it comes to watching students prepare to succeed in whatever they do.  Another quote that I would give to new teachers is also from Dr. Seuss - “You have brains in your head.

                           You have feet in your shoes.

                       You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

                        ? Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

One of the life’s greatest lessons would be to believe in yourself and never give up.  Know that you are helping to enrich young lives and to always be “humble.”  You also need to show students that failure is good, as long as you learn from it and to strive to get to the next level.  Never give up. Keep on believing that you can do whatever you put your mind to.  

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