DELMAR — Awesome. Kind. Off the hook.
Anyone who has had a teacher they could describe this way would consider themselves lucky. Here in Bethlehem, sixth-graders in Khalan Micieli’s classroom must be feeling that way because those are just a few of the positive words they use to describe their social studies teacher at the middle school.
Visit Mrs. Micieli’s classroom and you’ll understand why. There you’ll see a teacher who has a way of connecting with students in a quiet, comfortable way that makes them feel they can open up, ask questions, give their opinions and learn together.
Only now, Micieli’s quiet success in the classroom is no longer a secret. On Friday, March 11, she was awarded Outstanding Social Studies Classroom Teacher of the Year from the New York State Social Studies Council, a statewide professional organization of social studies educators.
Micieli has been a teacher in the Bethlehem Central School District for 17 years but it’s only for the last three years that she has been at the middle school. Before that, she was a fifth-grade teacher at Hamagrael for many years after spending her first year in the district at Slingerlands.
When one of Micieli’s fifth-grade students from her final year at Hamagrael found out Micieli would be following her to the middle school to become her sixth-grade social studies teacher, nothing could have made Arden Talmage happier.
“She’s an amazing teacher and has always been so helpful,” said Talmage, who is now in eighth grade at BCMS. “Mrs. Micieli is super-organized. She always has a lesson planned out and she is the kindest person I know. She made social studies such a fun and interesting class.”
The person who nominated Micieli for the statewide award, K-12 social studies supervisor Nick Petraccione, knows better than most how critical it is to engage middle school students in social studies.
“When she was hired, I felt our middle school program needed an elementary educational leader who understood the transition of elementary school to the demands of middle school and who could serve as a catalyst of change to our traditional approach to the social sciences and historical thinking.
“Khalan Micieli is that teacher,” said Petraccione. “She’s someone who in just a few years has earned the respect of her colleagues, parents, students and administrators.”
Petraccione will be present when Micieli accepts the Outstanding Social Studies Teacher award at a luncheon on Friday.
As for Micieli, she said it’s her students who have kept her passionate about social studies and her career in teaching.
“They are the ones who inspire me and keep me in awe of all our future has to hold,” said Micieli.